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LI company weighs applying to be a medical marijuana dispenser

A file photo shows marijuana being weighed and

A file photo shows marijuana being weighed and packaged for sale at a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle. Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS / Ted S. Warren

At least one Long Island company is leaning toward entering the competition to become one of five initial medical marijuana dispensers in New York, an executive said Monday, the day the state Department of Health began accepting applications.

Dean Petkanas, chief executive of KannaLife Sciences Inc., a Huntington company researching plant-based medicines to treat the brain, said the company is evaluating the economics of becoming a dispenser of medical marijuana.

"If we conclude it's sound, we'll make an application," he said. "We probably will apply."

Under regulations published on the Department of Health website, applicants have to pay a nonrefundable application fee of $10,000 and a registration fee of $200,000, which would be returned to those rejected.

Businesses have until May 29 to apply; the state hopes to award licenses by July.

"We have laid out an ambitious timeline in getting the program up and running, and we are meeting our goals," the state's acting health commissioner said.

The five registered providers will be charged with growing, processing and selling the marijuana in nonsmokable forms that can be eaten or used in vapor. Each provider will be allowed to run four dispensaries to provide geographic coverage around the state. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the medical marijuana law in July making New York the 23rd state to approve the drug for medicinal purposes.

Petkanas, who two decades ago was vice president of corporate finance for Stratton Oakmont, the Long Island stock firm portrayed in the movie "The Wolf of Wall Street," acknowledged dispensing medical marijuana would diverge from KannaLife's focus on developing pharmaceutical-grade products.

Hanan Kolko, an attorney in the cannabis practice group at Garden City-based Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, said the furor over marijuana legalization will die down as the business emerges from the shadows. "At some point, [a marijuana dispenser is] going to sponsor a float in the July Fourth parade," he said.

With Yancey Roy

and Thomas Maier

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