A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health did not say how many companies are applying for licenses to dispense medical marijuana, but he did say five licenses will be issued. Each license will allow each vendor the rights to establish four dispensaries throughout New York. One company, PalliaTech, signed a lease on a 3,000-square-foot space in downtown Brooklyn. The lease however is contingent on the company winning one of the five coveted licenses.
The licensing competition is a result to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signing of the Compassionate Care Act in 2014, legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, unlike in California and other states with liberal medical marijuana regulations, New York State will have the country’s strictest regulations.
The fact there will only be 20 dispensaries in a state as large as New York with a population of 20 million people, will make it not as ubiquitous as some might like. In addition, cannabis will not be available at all in plant form, so it cannot be smoked by users. Instead, users will need to ingest a highly refined version of the drug using vaporized oils, gel caps, nebulizers or other ways to achieve its medicinal effects. One other limiting factor is that only 10 illnesses will allow doctors to prescribe marijuana.
“We believe that New York has set a national standard” said Andrei Bogolubov, the executive vice president of PalliaTech. “It will give doctors a tool so that they can finally unlock the therapeutic potential of cannabis, which is vast for patients in New York, and ultimately that will benefit people who suffer from disease.”