Marijuana dispensaries across the state of New York are preparing to open in 2016 as medical marijuana licenses are slowly being distributed.
New York is one of 23 states nationwide to allow the use of medical marijuana. The state is currently in the process of distributing licenses to dispensaries to distribute the product, and certifying doctors in its prescription.
“We want to make a system that is accepted by mainstream medicine to maximize patient access,” said Kyle Kingsley, the CEO of Vireo Health, a startup that has a similar operation in Minnesota.
“The average patient will be spending around $300 per month,” he continued, saying that the company’s first legal harvest occurred in November. The company plans to operate several dispensaries throughout the state, including ones in Queens, White Plains, Binghamton, and Colonie.
The companies to win distribution license in the state include Etain, Bloomfield Industries, Pharmacannis, and Columbia Care, which plans to open a dispensary in Manhattan near Union Square.
According to the New York State Department of Health, patients must suffer from and be diagnosed with a “specific severe, debilitating or life-threatening condition that is accompanied by an associated or complicating condition.” Among such recognized conditions are AIDS, ALS, and cancer. The drug will not be covered by health insurance.
Qualifying candidates will reportedly receive medical marijuana in the approved forms of liquid and oil, to be consumed orally or via a tube. (The smoking of cannabis was outlawed under the state’s 2014 Compassionate Care Act.)
While advocates welcome the progression of medical marijuana laws, some say there still remains a great deal of work to be done.
“New York is a ‘wait and see’ as its medical marijuana program is one of the most restrictive in the U.S.,” says Matt Karnes, the founder of the advocacy group GreenWave. “There remains uncertainty… (around) the willingness of the medical community to recommend marijuana as an alternative treatment.”
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