Hydroponically grown marijuana plants on an Oregon farm. Photo: Adobe Stock

Less than a month after New York legalized recreational marijuana, one of the country’s largest cannabis cultivators announced it has purchased a 34-acre North Fork farm that will expand its cultivation and production footprint by about a million square feet.

Columbia Care said it paid $42.5 million for the site, identified by Times Review Media, which first reported the sale, as Van de Wetering Greenhouses on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

In an April 29 press release announcing the acquisition, Columbia Care said the new facility allows it to scale production of medical marijuana to meet increasing market demand and supports the company’s entrance into the state’s adult-use program.

Columbia Care, a publicly traded company headquartered in New York City, operates a major cultivation and research hub in upstate Rochester that has already served New York’s more than 120,000 medical marijuana patients since 2015, according to the press release.

Columbia Care opened a medical marijuana dispensary in Riverhead in 2016.

The company said it expects its first harvest and sales from the North Fork property for the state’s medical marijuana program in the fourth quarter of this year, pending regulatory approvals.

The new facility currently has approximately 740,000 square feet of operational greenhouse space, which Columbia Care said it plans to acquire in phase two of the transaction. The property’s infrastructure is fully developed for industrial scale and throughput and is currently used for growing ornamental flowers, Columbia Care said in the press release. Additionally, the existing owners have previously planted and successfully harvested industrial hemp on-site, the company said.

“As a company whose roots are in New York, it has been incredibly important that we build a scalable, vertically-integrated operation in the state that not only delivers the very best quality and prices to our patients and partners today, but also ensures that we can continue to deliver on our mission to New Yorkers through future legal cannabis programs,” Columbia Care CEO Nicholas Vita said in a statement.

“We are eager to see New York’s regulated market emerge as one of the top global cannabis markets, with some market size estimates exceeding $5 billion by 2025 and more than 75,000 jobs created by 2027. We intend to continue to invest in opportunities that support this growth for all,” he said.

Columbia Care said it will pay a total purchase price of $42 million for the site, which includes $15 million in cash and $27.5 million in Columbia Care stock. An initial payment of $30 million has been made, the company said. The remaining $12.5 million in stock payment will follow in August upon completion of the second phase of the transaction.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.