Dispensaries in New York
Today is a big day for cannabis in New York, which joined up with nearly half of the states in the nation in allowing medical marijuana consumption and sales. Eight medical cannabis dispensaries have opened their doors for the first time on Thursday, serving up marijuana concentrates, edibles, syrups, and other forms of the drug.
For now, state Health Department officials are unsure how many patients will be able to obtain cannabis at the dispensaries, which opened in the main cities like Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and of course, NYC — including one on East 14th Street in Manhattan, sandwiched between a medical facility and a falafel establishment.
Approval for medical marijuana licenses only began on December 23, 2015, and state officials do not have a number on exactly how many patients had qualified for the drug, though they said some patients had already been approved.
According to NYT, “the opening of the dispensaries, allowed under a 2014 law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, comes after years of lobbying by lawmakers on behalf of patients, including children, for whom the drug is a palliative to debilitating illnesses.”
But the 2014 law is still the subject of criticism by some marijuana advocates. They point to the severe strictures and regulations of the law, which only recognizes limited number of conditions as qualifying for cannabis treatment.
Additionally, marijuana may not be smoked in New York, a stipulation of Mr. Cuomo’s approval of medical marijuana.
“I think the glass is three-fourths full, maybe two-thirds full, and that is that it is going to benefit a lot of very seriously ill people,” said Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat, who first introduced a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the mid-1990s. “But I think we can do better.”
Despite the drive to do more, the opening of eight medical marijuana dispensaries in New York is a major step forward.
New York has been the home of the so-called “Rockefeller Drug Laws,” which set a punitive tone regarding drug use and users in the 1970s. Now that marijuana has a measure of acceptance here, the move is seen as significant to longtime advocates of relaxing harsh penalties for drug use.