Special Report: Exclusive look inside nearby medical marijuana facility

WATERTOWN, Conn. (NEWS10) – NEWS10 ABC got an inside look at a Connecticut medical marijuana facility that is vying for a license in New York.

Forty-three companies have applied but only five will be selected to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York State. There’s hundreds of pages to sift through, but what would the facilities look like?

Hudson Health Extracts has a sister company less than 70 miles away from their proposed New York site. They’ve been serving patients since September 2014.

Cloaked by a high security system in Watertown, Conn. is Theraplant.

“There is true medicinal value here,” Theraplant CEO Ethan Ruby said.

The once vilified drug is experiencing a rebirth, and its treatment has proven to work for none other than its CEO.

“It did alleviate a lot of the problems I was having without a lot of the harmful side effects of the other medications,” he said.

Ruby is now surrounded by the plants that have helped him cope for the past 14 years after he was struck by a car and paralyzed from the waist down.

“To take this tragedy in my life and turn it into something positive is an amazing opportunity,” he said.

Security measures at Theraplant include bulletproof glass, a retinal scanner and restrictive color coded ID badges. Within its walls, Ruby is cultivating marijuana in a relentlessly researched and strictly regulated approach.

“This industry that’s emerging, done responsibly, can benefit any state or any community that it goes into,” he said.

Ruby has a proposed site in Newburgh, N.Y. where he would continue the scientific process of growing medical marijuana. And it all begins with the mother plants.

In the propagation room, botanists hand clip clones from the mothers, which eventually flower buds. That’s where the plants’ highest medicinal value is found.

“As soon as you walk in, you can smell,” Ruby said.

Once crystalized, the buds can be harvested, dried and cured.

“It’s almost, you think about a wine connoisseur,” he said. “Same kind of thing. They are able to pick out those subtle tones.”

The flower bud, however, cannot be sold in New York. It’s medicine must be extracted from the marijuana into a tiny pill or other form of medication.

To do so, Theraplant uses a CO2 extraction machine. It pulls the medicine, either THC or CDB, from the bud. It is then meticulously packaged into tiny pills, decarboxylated syringes and cartridges ready to be loaded into personal vaporizers.

Handling the plants’ medicinal essence is delicate work.

“What we do here is not rocket science, but it is an expertise,” Ruby said. “And it has taken years to perfect a technique that ensures a consistent product.”

The company has invested millions of dollars into the business, and despite already serving 5,000 patients in Connecticut, Theraplant has yet to turn a profit.

However, the patient list is growing, and Ruby is hoping to expand to patients in New York.

“We are in the middle of a tipping point right now,” he said. “One hundred years from now, medical cannabis will be a part of the physical reference manual just like it was before 1937.”

In New York, the regulations are based on the science and medical value of marijuana. It cannot be smoked, and there is a very strict patient list.

Some hospitals are getting involved.

Albany Medical Center visited Theraplant in May. If the company is licensed in the Capital Region, Albany Med said they would consider working with the company.

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