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Another Riverhead nursery grower has been granted a conditional adult-use cannabis cultivator license from the State Cannabis Control Board.

Van de Wetering Greenhouses on Sound Avenue in Jamesport was among 20 growers across the state to be granted conditional cultivator licenses by the state board at its meeting today. The new licenses bring to 223 the number of conditional cultivator licenses issued by the state to date. The application period closed June 30.

Van de Wetering Greenhouses is a nursery grower of flowering plants and ornamental grasses that specializes in young plants that the company sells to other growers.

Walter Gravagna, who owns and runs the greenhouse operation with his wife Karin, whose family founded the company in 1989, said in an interview today Van de Wetering will dedicate a small portion of its greenhouses to cannabis plants.

The state has strict regulations governing the cultivation of adult-use cannabis and the regulations limit the cultivation area to not more than 20,000 square feet.

This is not the company’s first experience with cannabis. It began cultivating hemp two years ago and when the opportunity arose to apply for an adult-use cultivator license, Gravagna said they decided to apply.

Hemp and marijuana are the two types of the same genus of plant, cannabis. They differ in their chemical composition. The principal difference is the amount of THC, the compound that produces an intoxicating high. Hemp has very low THC levels but higher levels of CBD, a main ingredient in therapeutic oils, salves and creams. After the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act banned all forms of cannabis, the cultivation of hemp was illegal. The 2018 Farm Bill removed the hemp plant from the Controlled Substances Act.

Van de Wetering Greenhouses sold its 34-acre farm last year to Colombia Care, one of the country’s largest medical cannabis cultivators and a publicly traded company headquartered in New York City.

“We leased back most of the most of the facilities. So were we nothing has really changed for us,” Gravagna said. “We have a long term lease. They occupy a small portion of the greenhouse in the back.”

Since Van de Wetering, founded in 1989, has always focused on young plants and supplying other growers, its “primary immediate focus is growing young starter plants, maybe to supply other other cannabis growers,” Gravagna said. “Cultivation is what we do, we specialize in young plants, in propagating cuttings and germinating seeds. So that would be our focus to start,” he said.

Gravagna said today he intends to start planting marijuana in his greenhouse immediately.

Van de Wetering Greenhouses is the third grower in the Town of Riverhead to be approved for a conditional cultivator license. The first local grower to gain approval was Plant Connection on Sound Avenue in Jamesport, owned by Anthony and Melissa Caggiano, who also own and operate Jamesport Farm Brewery. The second was Peconic Growers in Riverhead, owned by Bill Bianchi, who is also an owner of Bianchi-Davis Greenhouses on Doctors Path, where he grows orchids.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor and attorney. Her work has been recognized with numerous journalism awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She was also honored in 2020 with a NY State Senate Woman of Distinction Award for her trailblazing work in local online news. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.