Stock photo: Pexels

A Riverhead business was among the first round of adult-use cannabis cultivator license applicants approved by New York State yesterday.

Plant Connection on Sound Avenue was one of 52 applicants to have conditional cultivator licenses granted yesterday by the state’s Cannabis Control Board.

Plant Connection, established in 2002, grows nursery stock, hops and hemp.

Owners Anthony and Melissa Caggiano said they see the chance to grow cannabis as an opportunity to diversify their operations and help maintain sustainability in a very expensive region for agriculture.

“We’ve been hemp growers for a few years and hop growers for at least 10 years. This seemed like a logical next step,” Anthony Caggiano said.

The couple also operates Jamesport Farm Brewery, which they opened in 2017. The farm brewery was another expansion to ensure sustainability of their farming operation, he said.

Plant Connection has an existing greenhouse operation and their cannabis cultivation will take take place in greenhouses on their farm, Anthony Caggiano said.

The license requires implementation of a “very vigorous” 24-hour security system, Melissa Caggiano added.

More than 150 applications have been submitted to the state since its online portal opened March 15, Governor Kathy Hochul said yesterday. Hochul signed legislation creating the Cannabis Conditional Cultivator Licenses.

The Office of Cannabis Management did not release the locations of the approved cultivator applications, but a search of the Department of State’s business database revealed two other applicants are located in Suffolk County: Route 27 Hop Yard, a hops and hemp grower in Moriches and East End Flower Farm, a company registered by Shirley resident Kathleen Long-Ribiero. A handful of other approvals went to applicants in the NYC-LI region.

The Office of Cannabis Management will continue to review adult-sue cultivator applications on a rolling basis and will work to get them to the control board for approval as quickly as possible, Hochul said in a press release Thursday afternoon.

Another Sound Avenue nursery is already growing medical cannabis. Columbia Care, one of the country’s largest marijuana growers and operators of medical marijuana dispensaries, purchased a 34-acre farm and greenhouse facility on Sound Avenue last May.

Unlike medical cannabis cultivators, adult-use cultivators are prohibited from being licensed as retailers or locations for on-site consumption under the 2021 legislation that legalized recreational marijuana in New York State.

“New York’s farms have been the backbone of our state’s economy since before the American Revolution, and now, New York’s farms will be at the center of the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation,” Hochul said in the press release yesterday.

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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.