kingsleyWith more than a month to go before New York’s medical marijuana program is due to come on line, Vireo Health in Fulton County harvested their first batch of a medical grade version of the plant.

“Today’s a momentous day for the patients of New York. We’re very excited to be actively participating in the first harvest in probably a century, the first legal harvest in about a century in New York,” said Kyle Kingsley, the CEO of Verio Health, who provided a media tour of the facility on Thursday.

The plants are being grown at a converted grow facility at the former Tryon Juvenile Detention Center, an infamous state camp that closed in 2010.

Local officials in Fulton County have sought to transform into a business incubator site.

Company officials at Vireo, one of the five that were selected to grow and dispense medical marijuana come 2016, expect the program will be a small one in the beginning, given the pool of qualifying patients is relatively small.

They will eventually converted into medicine that is either ingested through an oil or in pill form. It will only be available to patients with severe illnesses such as cancer and epilepsy.

“I’m not sure how much we’ll have,” Kingsley said, “but I’m confident we’ll be able to cover all the patients who are registered in New York right away.”

The question remains how many patients will be prescribed the drug, which won’t be covered by insurance. Meanwhile Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sought to allay concerns the program won’t be up and running by the start of the new year, signing a bill that would create an expedited emergency program.

Kingsley doesn’t expect the emergency program will impact his business.

tryonmedmarAnd broader questions linger over the governor’s approval of an expedited medical marijuana program and just where that marijuana will come from. The bills sponsors say however it will provide flexibility to the health department when it comes to the January program coming on line.

“I’m not sure it will effect us that much,” Kingsley said. “We’re focused on our time line in giving medication to patients as soon as we can. We’ll work with the department to accelerate that as soon as possible. There’s a lot of things that need to be done still. So our goal has been the first week of January.”

Vireo does have experience with other medical marijuana programs. The company has an operation in Minnesota that has been established for more than a year.

“I think we’re working with a really good team an the support we get from Minnesota and they’ve been through the process,” said Chuck Schneider, the chief horticulturalist for Verio in New York. “I for know it was so much pressure. It was a joy to be a part of doing something that’s so good.”

For now, the program is expected Is start slowly. The company is starting to contact doctors about filling prescriptions.

“Most of the interactions have been one on one this far,” said Stephen Dahmer, the company’s chief medical officer. “Hopefully that will expand in the future as more organizations become interested and more physicians become interested.”