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Long Island to get 4 new medical marijuana dispensaries

Marijuana plants are on display at a medical

Marijuana plants are on display at a medical marijuana provider on April 15, 2017. Credit: AP/Richard Vogel

ALBANY — Long Island will get four new medical marijuana dispensaries as part of New York’s effort to double the program, state officials announced Tuesday.

The state Health Department awarded licenses to five new medical marijuana companies. Once the new companies are up and running, New York will have a total of 10 manufacturing sites and 40 dispensaries statewide.

Nassau and Suffolk counties each would get two new dispensaries, according to the state Health Department. Locations weren’t disclosed immediately in large part because some companies were looking to finalize sites after the state decided on licenses.

Fiorello Pharmaceuticals, a Manhattan-based company, will operate a manufacturing facility in Schenectady County and dispensing facilities in Nassau, Monroe, New York and Saratoga counties.

Eric Sirota, Fiorella’s co-CEO, declined to disclose its planned Nassau site. However, he said, “what distinguishes us from the other companies in the market is that all of our facilities will be located in medical buildings, in academic medical settings.”

Sirota, a pharmacist by training, said such settings will help “establish therapeutic marijuana as a mainstream medical treatment.” He said the company intends to be “fully operational” some time during the first three months of next year.

Long Island already has two medical marijuana dispensaries, licensed in 2015. MedMen operates a facility in New Hyde Park after moving from Lake Success; Columbia Care operates in Riverhead.

The other license winners announced Tuesday were:

  • New York Canna (doing business as Terradiol New York), which will manufacture in Syracuse and operate dispensaries in Suffolk, Queens and Orange counties, and the Buffalo area. Terradiol CEO John Vavolo said in a statement the company was “beginning construction of our four dispensary locations,” but didn’t say exactly where in Suffolk County.
  • PalliaTech NY, which will manufacture in Ulster County and operate dispensaries in Nassau, Orange and Queens counties and the Plattsburgh area. PalliaTech didn’t provide details about what Long Island location it is considering.
  • Valley Agriceuticals. Its president, Erik Holling, said in a statement: “Our team already is in the process of getting our Wallkill, Orange County, manufacturing facility up and running, finalizing leases on our dispensaries in Brooklyn and in Dutchess, Oneida and Suffolk Counties, and preparing on all fronts to create the best medicines possible for New York’s patients.”
  • Citiva Medical, which will manufacture in Orange County and operate dispensaries in Dutchess and Chemung counties, as well as Brooklyn and Staten Island.

As of Tuesday, there are 25,736 registered patients in the medical marijuana program in New York — a more than 10,000-person increase since March when chronic pain was added to the list of treatable conditions, the Health Department said.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.

New York legalized medical marijuana in 2014.

The program prohibits the smoking of marijuana and initially allowed use only in connection with about 10 diseases and syndromes. The drug is available only through other forms, such as edibles, oils and vaporizers.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, originally an opponent, agreed to a medical marijuana plan that originally had a short list of eligible conditions compared to other states and that gave him the power to end the program if he thinks it isn’t working.

The drug has to be cultivated and distributed all within New York borders, and non-state residents aren’t eligible for treatment. Additionally, the legislation authorized medical marijuana for just seven years, with an evaluation after that.

Since then, the state Health Department has authorized nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to certify medical marijuana and added chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions.

In May, the Health Department released a list of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants registered with the medical marijuana program.

Of the 315 practitioners on the public list, 42 are in Nassau and 31 are in Suffolk. The top specialty for consenting Long Island professionals is family practice. Across the state, the top represented specialty is internal medicine, with 64 consenting practitioners.

In June, the State Legislature approved legislation allowing medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill has yet to be sent to Cuomo.

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