ALBANY - A pharmaceutical company competing for one of the state's five medical marijuana licenses pledged Monday to provide $5 million in research grants, including $1 million to Stony Brook University.
Fiorello Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is based in New York City, announced Monday that it would fund the research into medical marijuana uses if it secures a license to provide the drug.
"The private sector and state governments must step in to fill the unconscionable void in medical marijuana research created by the federal classification of marijuana" as a narcotic, said Fiorello CEO Ari Hoffnung Monday.
The legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo adopted New York's medical marijuana law last year. The law strictly limits marijuana to smokeless forms for serious medical conditions including epilepsy, cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and ALS, which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
The state Health Department is evaluating proposals by more than 100 companies competing for the licenses, with each offering incentive packages. Operations and dispensing of medical marijuana is scheduled to begin Jan. 5.
At Stony Brook University, the grant would allow continued research into understanding how medical marijuana can treat diseases that include childhood epilepsy, said Dale G. Deutsch, professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Stony Brook.
Fiorello Pharmaceuticals also pledged to provide $1 million in research grants over five years to facilities in the Albany area where the company would have part of its medical marijuana operation. The balance of $3 million would go to clinicians and researchers statewide, the company stated.
Hoffnung said the funding over five years would advance treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases while making New York a global leader in marijuana research.