Mother-Daughter Business Seeks Medical Marijuana License in New York

Etain, LLC, is one of what will likely be hundreds of applicants for the five medical marijuana licenses to be awarded by the state of New York in July. But the team stands out in a largely male industry because it is made up entirely of women: mother, Amy Peckham, and daughters, Hillary and Keeley Peckham.

As the 4 p.m., Friday, June 5, deadline looms, Etain may also prove to be unusual because it is entirely New York-based. With no residency requirement, New York has attracted applications from industry participants throughout the country.

The bigger question may ultimately prove to be, “Why marijuana, and why in New York?” instead of “Why not women?” The state has some of the most restrictive regulations in the nation: controlling price, set by the New York State Health Commissioner at his or her sole discretion; method of consumption, no smoking; allowable conditions, 10, no glaucoma; permitted strains, five; naming of strains, no colorful common names; and color of signage, black and white only.


Why Medical Marijuana?

The tale often begins with personal experience. Hillary told the story of her grandmother, diagnosed with ALS, and how she suffered from wasting. In her own experience, Hillary lost the use of a leg for two years because of failed hip surgery. “The only thing my doctors could prescribe me through college was Percocet and Adderall. Trying to get through school with that, I’d have to be either completely jacked up or in too much pain to even get to classes. What this medicine provides people is a way to function.”

Etain, LLC, is named in tribute to her mother’s Irish ancestry. Etain, a female figure in Irish mythology, is often described as the sun goddess, a multi-role woman also associated with transformation, compassion and caring.  Those values are a key part of the company’s pitch.


Why New York?

This part of the puzzle may be harder to address. The Peckham family has a 90-year history of business in New York, now under the banner of Peckham Industries. The core is asphalt, concrete and construction, not healthcare, but the business experience and connections may have made the process of assembling the application somewhat smoother.

The pitch is about New York for New Yorkers, and their dispensary locations are reportedly in some of the more economically troubled regions of the state. The aspiration is to offer employment opportunities in communities, like Glens Falls, where they are scarce.

The biggest challenge in the application process, Hillary noted, was the time frame. Applications first became available on April 27, 2015, and the process was originally set to close on May 29. On May 21, it was extended to June 5. “We were so thankful for that week,” Hillary said. It is a process that, nonetheless, favors the well-funded and well-prepared.

Etain’s application runs approximately 1,500 pages, with detailed site plans, architectural drawings and leases at four locations. The application requires 14 appendices and a deposit of $210,000, $200.000 of which is refundable if the application is denied. Additional fees include an annual fee of $10,000 per dispensary location, $5,000 per cultivation center, $200 for each director, officer, member, incorporator, $75 for each employee registration, $150 per mangers license, and so on.

Analysts have suggested that new medical marijuana businesses in New York should expect losses for the first two years. The play is about positioning for recreational legalization. The first five will have an undeniable advantage.

Will women-run businesses be a part of that scene? Will locally-run enterprises be a part of the picture? Will there be transformational difference in terms of patient experience if the industry is more diverse? Data and mythology suggest that there may be.

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