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WOLCOTT | It has been a tough couple of years for eastern Wayne County's economy. But a local business owner hopes to turn that around with a proposal to transform a shuttered plant into a medical marijuana growing facility. 

Scott Marshall, president and CEO of Marshall BioResources in North Rose, has launched a new company, Butler Evergreen, that will pursue one of five licenses statewide to manufacture and distribute medical marijuana under guidelines established by the state Department of Health. 

Butler Evergreen's medical marijuana manufacturing operation would be located at the former Electromark plant in Wolcott. The proposal includes a $10 million local investment and the creation of 100 jobs, most of which would be at the Wolcott facility. 

The company is also planning to open four medical marijuana dispensaries throughout central and western New York. 

Marshall said at a press conference Friday that when the state's medical marijuana law was adopted last year and the program's regulations were released, his company, which breeds animals for biomedical research, noticed similarities with its existing operations. 

"We saw this as an opportunity to leverage what we do well and use our resources and our talented employees and apply all that to a new company and a new product and new services," he said. 

He also highlighted the potential benefits of the proposed Wayne County facility, particularly for those who wish to acquire the drug to address a serious medical condition. 

"The other part of it is we also saw this as an opportunity to really help people and bringing new medicines to the people of New York who are suffering from diseases," he said. "The pharmaceuticals that will be created here at Butler Evergreen will help our friends, our neighbors, our family who are suffering from and battling cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, ALS and other diseases. I think we all know people that could benefit from these medicines." 

Butler Evergreen has tapped experts in agriculture, medical marijuana and medical research to join its team, including Dr. Luke Peppone of the University of Rochester Medical Center. 

Peppone will advise the company on new treatment options and research. 

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The proposal has support from Wayne County officials, including state Assemblyman Bob Oaks and Wolcott Supervisor Kim Park. 

Oaks, R-Macedon, supported the medical marijuana legislation — the Compassionate Care Act — in the Assembly. He said Butler Evergreen's plans could provide a boost to the local economy, which has been affected by the closures of Butler Correctional Facility and Electromark in 2014. 

"To focus and repurpose (the former Electromark property) will be great for this community, our region and all of New York," he said. 

Butler Evergreen will have plenty of competition in its pursuit of a state license. Several businesses have already expressed interest in securing a license, including Citiva Medical, a company founded by Colorado medical marijuana pioneer Josh Stanley

The state Department of Health is overseeing the selection process. The agency issued a request for applications in late April. Organizations seeking a license must include information about its proposed medical marijuana growing operation and where dispensaries would be located. 

To apply, entities will be required to pay a $200,000 registration fee and $10,000 nonrefundable application fee. 

Health officials will award the licenses later this year. Organizations licensed by the state will be allowed to operate a medical marijuana growing operation and open no more than four dispensaries in New York. 

The state's medical marijuana program is expected to launch in January 2016. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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