The New York State Department of Health announced today that it had awarded five licenses for the growth and distribution of medical marijuana throughout the state. The companies that were successful were selected from a pool of 43. The Rochester marijuana operation has been given to Columbia Care which will be based at the Eastman Business Park off West Ridge Road, according to 13WHAM.
The Rochester licensee, Columbia Care, operates marijuana growing and dispensing operations in five other states, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. The Department of Health gave the remaining four medical marijuana licenses to Bloomfield Industries Inc, which will manufacture in Queens, Empire State Health Solutions operating out of Fulton County, Etain, LLC which will be growing in Warren County, and PharmaCann LLC which will be in Orange County. Each of the growers must open dispensaries in four different counties in the next six months.
The state will allow license holders to produce up to five different products: “liquids and oils for vaporization, oromucosal or sublingual administration, or administration per tube as well as capsules to take orally.” The current law prohibits medical marijuana from being dispensed for smoking.
The final products must be tested by independent labs for consistency and for potential contamination. The Department of Health must approve product pricing and advertising. The license is for a period of two years and may be renewed at the end of that term.
The current law in New York limits the illnesses or conditions for which a physician can prescribe medical marijuana. The New York State Health Department states:
“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.”
The Health Department is examining several other illnesses, and has the authority to add illnesses and conditions to this list. The patient can receive no more than a thirty day supply of medical marijuana product.
Marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains an illegal drug under Federal law. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.
The Drug Enforcement Administration continues to carry marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Patients should be aware of this if traveling out of state or internationally. In addition, misuse or illicit sale of of medical marijuana can be prosecuted at either the state or Federal level.
The Rochester medical marijuana dispensary will be located in the former Eastman Savings & Loan building at Kodak Park, off West Ridge Road. The available products will not include marijuana for smoking. It is unclear at this time if the dispensary will offer foods or drink containing marijuana as can be purchased in some states. The state’s regulations will make this situation more like going to a pharmacy than a head shop.