The New York State Department of Health is extending the deadline for applications for the five licenses to dispense medical marijuana after receiving a crush of inquiries about the program, according to the agency's website.

The original May 29 deadline has been pushed back to June 5, although the agency said it still plans to roll out the program as early as Jan. 5, 2016, 18 months after the medical marijuana law was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Richard Taney, chief executive of PalliaTech Inc., a Sea Cliff-based medical marijuana company that is readying an application that is expected to run more than 1,000 pages, said the state agency "wanted to be responsive" to the many questions related to the process.

32 pols support medical pot in NY

The Health Department declined to provide additional details until it names the organizations that will dispense the drug. The state plans to award the five licenses 30 to 60 days after the deadline; each licensee would be authorized to run up to four dispensaries. Organizations not awarded a license would get their $200,000 registration fee back, but the $10,000 application fee is nonrefundable.

Several organizations have said they plan to apply for a license and set up dispensaries on Long Island.

Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act in July 2014, making New York the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana. Patients with conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and Huntington's disease would be eligible to purchase marijuana.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The law bars administering smokable marijuana. Approved forms include liquid or oil for vaporization, or liquid, oil or capsules for oral dosages.

Taney said 6-year-old PalliaTech will file its application in a "very, very competitive" field for the five New York licenses. The company also is expecting state regulators to approve within days the opening of its dispensary in the southern New Jersey borough of Bellmawr, he said.

David Weisser, president of Empire State Compassionate Care, another company planning to enter the New York medical marijuana race, Monday said the company tentatively plans to put dispensaries on Long Island and in Manhattan, Buffalo and Albany.

"Nassau is probably where we're committed," he said.

Weisser and his father, real estate investor Michael Weisser, also are principals of Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge, one of three New Jersey dispensaries in operation.