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Basil farm ready to switch to marijuana

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NEW JERSEY (MYFOXNY.COM) -

Basil plants grow on a New Jersey farm, but the facility could be turned into a five-acre medical marijuana greenhouse with only 48 hours' notice.

The hoses from the state-of-the-art Dutch hydroponic system are watering flowers now, but with a few minor adjustments could just as easily grow marijuana plants for medicinal cannabis. The only reason it's not happening now is because the company is publicly traded and subject to federal law. When the federal ban is lifted, this energy-efficient, eco-friendly greenhouse can be fully shaded with the flip of a switch.

Terra Tech CEO Derek Peterson told me he saw the benefits of medical marijuana firsthand when his stepmother was fighting cancer. Peterson, a former Wall Street investment banker, flew in from California to address more than 200 investors who own stock in Terra Tech. They came from all over the United States and Canada. He explained that their leafy greens produce subsidiary called Edible Garden -- sold in stores including Shoprite and Fairway -- was increasingly more profitable and a plan B in case of a hostile political or legal climate.

White Township Mayor Sam Race, a strawberry farmer himself, did the honors at the ribbon cutting of the new $5.5 million greenhouse that sits on a two-lane country road. He told me it's good for the local economy and he would not oppose a switch to medical marijuana.

The growing momentum towards legalization and profitability of cannabis-related companies are attracting investors' interest. But former Wall Street research analyst Alan Brochstein of the 420 Investor newsletter tells me not all green turns to gold.

For now, Edible Garden is creating new jobs for local residents and pumping needed dollars into the local economy. Peterson is banking on a day when medicinal cannabis will be able to multiply those benefits even more.

Legal and regulatory barriers to growing marijuana still exists, but this company and its investors say they'll have the infrastructure in place when the tide turns.

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