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(Brian Burnell, NECN, Watertown, Conn.) - By summer, a former plate glass plant will be a highly secure facility for growing medicinal marijuana.
Theraplant is one of four companies granted licenses to grow in Connecticut. Company president Ethan Ruby learned the pain management benefits of pot after he was hit by a car 13 years ago.
He's gratified by what he sees as the evolution of attitudes on marijuana.
"The landscape of this medicine is changing," he said. "We are finally listening to doctors and scientists that this medicine, and this plant, has medicinal value."
Approving a growing facility in Watertown was not a hard sell. No one showed up at one public hearing on the subject. The town manager says most people are on board.
One problem that Theraplant and other marijuana growers have run into is financing. Banks are still a little leery because federal law lags behind state law when it comes to legalizing pot.
Therplant has $7 million in financing from over two dozen investors.
The company will hire 35 people to start and could employ as many as 100 in a year or two. The state has developed strict rules governing, among other things, security.
Ruby says people who are concerned this will lead to legalized recreation pot need not worry.
"The rules here [are] not a slippery slope or a backdoor to recreational," he said.
That has been a big concern.
State Rep. Sean Williams says he came around on medical marijuana after first voting against it. He believes legalized recreational pot is coming.
"This is the land of steady habits," he said. "We take our time doing things. It took a long time to get here. I think it'll take some time to get there, but I would venture to say that in most of our lifetimes, that will happen."
For now, Theraplant is focused only on medical marijuana.