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Newly approved medical marijuana producer to setup shop in DeWitt

Newly approved medical marijuana producer to setup shop in DeWitt

A newly approved medical marijuana manufacturer plans to build its manufacturing facility within the old New Venture Gear building in DeWitt.

New York state has authorized five more organizations to manufacture and dispense medical marijuana to improve patient access to dispensing facilities across the state. Among the newly approved manufacturers is NYCanna, which now calls itself Terradiol. The company plans to build its facility within the old New Venture Gear building.

The facility will be built using existing space within the old facility. The company hopes to have the facility up and running by the fall. When complete, it will be the first medical marijuana manufacturing facility in Onondaga County.

"I think this will really help a lot of people,” said Johnny Vavalo, the company’s founder and CEO. His partner is a familiar face in Syracuse: Dennis DuVal, the man who led Syracuse Police 15 years ago. Before that he played basketball at Syracuse University in the 1970's before going pro. Now, he serves as vice chairman and chief operating officer for the company.

13 years after leaving law enforcement, DuVal says his perspective on marijuana - specifically medical marijuana - has changed. To those who might think it's unusual for a former law enforcer to be part of this kind of project, DuVal says, "Why not me? I'm a person that has been in the world of compliance. There's a lot of compliance in this industry that has to be done."

“Security, issues of security whether it be in the manufacturing facility or the dispensing facilities and overall patient safety. There's a lot of different areas that I have expertise in just from my former life," DuVal said.

Both Vavalo and DuVal have a personal connection to the industry they're bringing to CNY; both lost their mothers to cancer and watched them suffer in their final days. "It was horrible. And this actually happened right after. They announced New York State was going to offer this right after she passed away,” Vavalo said.

"Hopefully the things that we're doing will bring about some help for people in this community as well as other throughout the state,” DuVal said.

The company plans to initially build 45,000 square feet at the DeWitt site with room to expand with increased demand. The company says it will also have four dispensaries around the state, but none of them will be located in Central New York.

The five new organizations join five others that have been operating since the medical marijuana program's launch in January 2016.The Department of Health says there are now more than 25,000 certified patients and over 1,000 registered practitioners in the program.

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