Mail this story to a friend.          
NYSNYS NEWS: With no explanation, Cuomo Health Department names 5 winners out of 43 medical marijuana applications, leaving 38 wondering why they were not picked. Albany, Syracuse each get 3 dispensaries.
NYSNYS News
NYSNYS NEWS: With no explanation, Cuomo Health Department names 5 winners out of 43 medical marijuana applications, leaving 38 wondering why they were not picked. Albany, Syracuse each get 3 dispensaries.


By Kyle Hughes
NYSNYS News


ALBANY, N.Y. (July 31) – The state Health Department chose five start-up firms to grow and sell medical marijuana Friday, leaving 38 other applicants in the dark about why they were not picked.

One of them was North Country Roots, a Plattsburgh company that wanted to open a dispensary in Clifton Park, Saratoga County.

"We're very happy for the people who won," said Doug Butdorf, the CEO of North Country Roots. "Good for them."

But he said he was puzzled that Albany and Syracuse would each have three dispensaries, but there will be none in large swaths of rural New York. With the law restricting an individual's medical marijuana supplies to only one month's worth, "that's a long drive down to Syracuse from Watertown" to get prescription medication.

Butdorf said his company is eager to still pursue opportunities to grow and sell products derived from marijuana. Under the new laws, only extracts of marijuana will be available by prescription. Smoking the drug is forbidden.

The Health Department did not say how or why it chose the five out of the 43 applicants, but promised to release redacted versions of the applications from each company. Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker would only say the decision on which applications to approve was made by "a team of professionals" in state government.

"The five organizations selected for registration today showed, through a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation process, they are best suited to produce and provide quality medical marijuana to eligible New Yorkers in need, and to comply with New York’s strict program requirements," Zucker said.

The winning manufacturing applicants were Bloomfield Industries Inc. of Queens, Columbia Care LLC of Monroe County, Empire State Health Solutions of Fulton County, Etain LLC of Warren County, and PharmaCann of Orange County.

The Health Department approved dispensaries for Onondaga, Erie, Clinton, Monroe, Broome, Albany and Ulster counties upstate. Downstate, dispensaries will be located in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Albany and Onondaga each have three locations, with two each in Manhattan, and Erie and Westchester counties. All the other locations have only one dispensary.

In Saratoga County, the possibility of a dispensary prompted the Clifton Park town board to pass zoning rules to keep any drug sales in locations away from residential neighborhoods, schools, churches and day care centers.

"My concern has always been that, one, my guess is that in the near future there will be many more medical marijuana dispensaries allowed in New York State, and, two, that unfortunately at some point the state will mostly likely legalize marijuana for recreational use," Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said Friday.

Without zoning, marijuana stores would be able to open up anyplace other businesses are permitted.

The program is supposed to be up and running by January 5, or by "when the system is certified" by Zucker and State Police. The state is moving cautiously because despite the fact marijuana has been quasi-legalized in two dozen states and the District of Columbia, the herb remains totally illegal under federal law.

"The law makes persons eligible to use medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed with a specific severe, debilitating or life-threatening condition that is accompanied by an associated or complicating condition," the Health Department FAQ webpage says. "The law identifies the following severe, debilitating or life-threatening conditions: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington's disease. The associated or complicating conditions are cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms."

-30-