The New York State Health Department just authorized five medical cannabis organizations to grow and sell marijuana for medical use. Each enterprise plans to open four dispensaries each, across the state.
The businesses license awardees will be registered with the local government, and they are required to be operational within the next six months. Before the end of 2015, medical cannabis may be for sale in the Empire State.
In July 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act, which legalized the sale of medical marijuana in New York, by way of dispensaries. The decision on which businesses to register followed a thorough review of prospective organizations. Gov. Cuomo did not comment on the New York State Health Department’s decisions, but Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the health commissioner, stated the approvals were “a major milestone” for the region’s medicinal cannabis programs.
Published in April, New York’s cannabis regulations require registered practitioners to certify medical marijuana patients. Only those physicians who complete a four-hour medicinal cannabis course can authorize potential patients. To qualify, state citizens must suffer from a “severe debilitating or life-threatening condition,” such as AIDS, epilepsy, cancer or other commissioner-approved ailments.
Additionally, dispensaries must follow certain security regulations. Marijuana storage areas as well as any other location where cannabis is kept must have motion detectors, video cameras and perimeter alarms. The hope is that these measures will “prevent and detect diversion, theft or loss” of the plant and its by-products.
Though New York is one of the largest territories to legalize medicinal cannabis use in the United States, some critics already believe the state’s medical marijuana program is too small and has overly strict regulations. Dispensaries are set to open in Albany, Manhattan, the Bronx, Long Island and other cities. However, the state has thousands of patients in need. The Drug Policy Alliance’s deputy state director, Julie Netherland, pointed out,
“There are huge areas of the state where patients will have to travel enormous distances to get medicine. This is especially problematic given that many medical marijuana patients are sick and disabled and low income.”
With a recent comment, Diane Savino, a state senator and Democrat from Staten Island, suggested that perhaps New York’s governmental officials are aware of the program’s limited scope.
“To [medical cannabis companies] who did not make the cut, stick around. New York is a very big state.”
Though only five businesses were approved for in-state operations, 43 medicinal cannabis enterprises applied to the Health Department for approval. The state will have an operational medical marijuana program within the next six months thanks to these five companies: PharmaCann, Bloomfield Industries, Columbia Care NY, Etain and Empire State Health Solutions.