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Top Stories 2021: Greenhouses sold as marijuana is legalized 

The publicly traded cannabis company that runs the medical marijuana dispensary in Riverhead Town dramatically upped its stake in the local pot business with a $42.5 million purchase of the Van de Wetering Greenhouses site on Sound Avenue in April.

Columbia Care said the site will supplement the company’s existing medical marijuana growing operation in western New York, better positioning it to cultivate the crop for recreational use.

The 34-acre property features about 740,000 square feet of existing greenhouse infrastructure and the capacity to potentially expand another 200,000 square feet, Columbia Care said.

State lawmakers approved the recreational use, sale and cultivation of marijuana in 2020 and many of the regulations go into effect in January. Riverhead and Southampton towns were the only municipalities to elect not to opt out of allowing dispensaries in town. The Village of Greenport opted out in November and Southold Town was expected to do the same Dec. 28.

It has not yet been determined where recreational dispensaries will be allowed in Riverhead. Columbia Care had opened Suffolk County’s first medical marijuana dispensary on East Main Street in January 2016. 

The sale of the greenhouses was the first reported cannabis-related land transfer since the state legalized recreational marijuana.