Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

A key lawmaker is making a push for New York to double the number of medical marijuana manufacturers in the state because he says the current program provides insufficient access for patients.

Assemb. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), the longtime champion of medical marijuana in the state Legislature, has introduced a bill that would authorize five new manufacturers in the state by Jan. 1.

The state currently has five manufacturers who each operate four dispensaries around the state, including one apiece in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Twenty dispensaries (many opened in January but not all) in a state with nearly 20 million residents simply isn’t enough, Gottfried contends.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

“Statewide, there are 978,500 New Yorkers for every medical marijuana dispensary. In the 22 other states that have medical marijuana laws, on average they have one dispensary for every 210,000 people,” Gottfried said in a memo accompanying his proposal. “By any standard, New York’s medical marijuana delivery system is woefully inadequate, and far out of step with practices across the nation.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo originally opposed medical marijuana but agreed with legislators to authorize a limited program in 2014. Besides limiting the number of outlets, it restricted the types of medical conditions that qualify a patient for participation. The Democrat also insisted on a clause that allows the governor’s office to shutter the program at any time if it feels too many problems have arisen. His office didn’t immediately comment on Gottfried’s proposal.

Medical marijuana proponents, while cheering the initial launch, have repeatedly said New York’s law is too restrictive.