When the city’s first cannabis dispensaries open later this year, some of the marijuana will come from what is currently an empty field on a Long Island farm 50 miles outside the city.

Route 27 Hemp Yard in Moriches is now licensed to become one of the state’s first commercial pot farms. Like the 51 other growers awarded licenses last week by the state’s Cannabis Control Board, Route 27 already grows hemp, which is similar to the marijuana plant but low in THC, the compound that produces a high. 

What You Need To Know

  • Route 27 Hemp Yard was among 52 farms awarded cultivation licenses by the Cannabis Control Board last week

  • The first round of cultivation licenses was reserved for farms currently growing hemp

  • Hemp plants are nearly identical to marijuana plants but are low in THC, the psychoactive ingredient that produces a high
  • The marijuana harvest will take place in late fall, in time to supply the first adult-use dispensaries, which are due to open by the end of the year

Route 27 instead grows hemp for CBD, a different compound shown to have some health benefits. 

“They look identical,” said owner Ryan Andoos. “They smell pretty much identical.”

And growing marijuana plants will be a very similar process, except Andoos will have to beef up security, including installing an electrified fence. 

“We’ll have cameras all through this field,” he said. “It’ll actually have face recognition, motion sensors.”

The state, in awarding licenses, has given priority to small, local operations like Route 27, a 12-acre farm with just two full-time employees. While Route 27 has run a successful business in part by selling its own CBD products, the new adult-use marijuana marketplace could be a game-changer.

“The demand is there, and we don’t have the supply” in New York, Andoos said. “So, simple supply and demand economics. Absolutely, it will be lucrative for everyone involved.”

Hemp produces the same distinct odor as marijuana, which has drawn complaints from neighbors in the past. That odor will only grow stronger this harvest season, but Andoos shrugs off those concerns.

“If you buy a house next to an airport, you can’t expect planes not to fly” nearby, he said. “When you buy a house next to a farm, you’re going to get some smells, whether it be cannabis smells, manure smells or cauliflower.”

Growing season is fast approaching: seedlings go in the ground in late spring, and the harvest comes in late fall, just in time to supply New York’s first adult-use dispensaries, which are slated to open by the end of the year.