One Massachusetts doctor is trying to reverse the negative effects inflicted by opioids and narcotics by building one of the largest marijuana grow and research facilities in the United States.
Jeff Goldstein, a radio oncologist, became interested in the medicinal possibilities of marijuana after working in Israel for a year where the drug is more widely used as pain medication.
“Until I left for Israel in 2013, I sat around all day writing [prescriptions for] narcotics…” Goldstein told the Boston Globe. But in Israel, “patients were preferring and using medical cannabis.”
Goldstein is the principal owner of a 1.1 million-square-foot North Andover factory, previously used by Lucent Technologies, and wants to transform the site into a major hub for scientific research on cannabis, as well as a grow plant. He is on the hunt for “a billion-dollar molecule,” he told the Globe, but will need the permission of locals in the North Andover area to do so.
Though Goldstein plans to make it a “state-of-the-art facility,” he still faces opposition from a local mother group and needs approval from the town’s Planning Board. His supporters, however, believe the move is a no-brainer.
To supporters, the plant is ideally set up for growing marijuana: It has huge interior spaces, a 50-megawatt substation to power the numerous lights needed to grow indoors, and private wells so the company doesn’t draw tens of thousands of gallons of water from the municipal system. The campus is also set apart from neighboring properties, and company officials said it will be easy to secure against intrusion.
Goldstein’s executives argued that growing marijuana is about the only thing the property is good for. Large-scale manufacturing has all but left New England, making it near impossible to find tenants for the property’s largest spaces.
This summer Massachusetts will become the first state east of the Mississippi to legalize recreational marijuana usage and sales. Early industry estimates predict Massachusetts will have $1 billion in annual sales by 2020.