PalliaTech Inc. said it has agreed to lease a 65,000- square-foot facility, part of a former Pfizer Inc. research and manufacturing center near New York's border with Canada, to grow and refine cannabis plants into medicinal form.
Financial terms of PalliaTech's lease were not disclosed. The deal, which gives the company the option to lease an additional 85,000 square feet at the site north of Plattsburgh in Clinton County, is contingent on PalliaTech's winning a medical marijuana license from the state Health Department.
Richard Taney, PalliaTech's president and chief executive, said the "turnkey pharmaceutical R&D facility that can be brought online very quickly" would help New Yorkers who suffer from illnesses that can be treated with medical cannabis.
In a separate development, Empire State Compassionate Care, another contender for one of the five licenses New York State plans to issue, has hired Michael Balboni, a former state senator from Nassau County and Homeland Security adviser under two governors, to help direct the company's safety, security and compliance operations.
Empire State Compassionate Care also hired Paul Higdon, a Drug Enforcement Administration veteran and former director of the criminal intelligence directorate at INTERPOL.
Empire State Compassionate Care is owned by David Weisser and his father, Michael Weisser, principals of a marijuana dispensary in Woodbridge, New Jersey, where Higdon oversees safety, security and compliance.
The New York State Department of Health extended the deadline to apply for the five licenses from May 29 to June 5 after receiving a blizzard of inquiries.
The former Pfizer facility in Chazy, N.Y., was acquired in 2013 by Stephen and Victor Podd of NorthStar Private Capital LLC. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer pulled out of the 386,060-square-foot facility after announcing a restructuring in 2009. PalliaTech said as many as 60 people would be employed at the facility.
The Sputnik Group, a private equity firm with offices in New York, London and Moscow, led a funding round in 2013 that raised more than $10 million for PalliaTech, the company said.
New York plans to award the five licenses 30 to 60 days after the June 5 deadline; each licensee would be authorized to run up to four dispensaries.
New York is the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana.
Patients with conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and Huntington's disease would be eligible to purchase marijuana.