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Orange County Has Its First Medical Marijuana Dispensary

A medical marijuana dispensary is open in Newburgh, New York — the first in Orange County. There was a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, but the dispensary has been open for a few weeks and has already served many clients.

Michelle Bodner is CEO and president of PalliaTech New York, which operates the dispensary under the brand name Curaleaf New York.

“We had a very quiet opening. In the two weeks we’ve been open, we’ve really been helping dozens and dozens of patients and feel great about it,” Bodner says. “So we’re looking forward to helping many, many more.”

Democratic New York state Assemblyman James Skoufis attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and says there is much demand for a dispensary in Orange County.

“It’s about those individuals who are suffering from cancer who are looking for pain relief. It’s about those children who are suffering from epilepsy who are looking for medicine that will reduce the number of episodes that they suffer from. That’s what this is really about,” Skoufis says. “There’s economic development and activity involved, of course, but it’s about making sure that there’s that access there for people to find help.”

Skoufis’ 99th District includes portions of Orange and Rockland Counties.

“I can’t tell you how many constituents over the past number of years have reached out to me really desperate for a more local dispensary with that sort of access,” says Skoufis.

Prior to Curaleaf’s opening, area residents had to travel to dispensaries in Kingston or White Plains, or New York City. Bodner says that based only on two weeks of data, patients are coming from surrounding counties and as far as two hours away.

“It’s centrally located to Orange, Dutchess, Westchester, Rockland. This site, in particular, is right off [I-]84, near [I-]87. It’s safe. It’s open. It’s a great building,” says Bodner. “It’s near sort of the iconic Alexis Diner that everyone in the region knows about.”

In fact, she says the owner of the Alexis Diner next door is Curaleaf’s landlord. In August 2017, the state Department of Health announced it had added five new registered organizations to manufacture and dispense medical marijuana in New York. The state also announced that it had seen, at that point, a more than 70 percent increase in certified patients since March 2017. Bodner says Newburgh was Curaleaf’s first dispensary in New York. Curaleaf also opened a dispensary in Plattsburgh April 19 and plans to open soon in Queens and on Long Island.

“There are 20 million people in New York. There were only five licensees. There were only 20 dispensaries. Now there will be 40. We’re actually the first dispensary to open up from the new five. So we’re the first two to open up of the next 20,” Bodner says. “And even with the 40, I think there’s still quite a bit of growth before we’re able to really reach all the patients that need our medications.”

Hudson Valley Republican state Senator Bill Larkin says he requested the state Department of Health expand the number of allowable dispensaries.

“And we decided that the distribution of them wasn’t equal. We thought so in the beginning,” Larkin says. “But Newburgh is a cornerstone between Kingston and White Plains.”

Bodner says Curaleaf hopes to be approved for delivery in the next few months. PalliaTech was approved to manufacture in Ulster County. PalliaTech NY is based in New York City and is a subsidiary of PalliaTech, Inc., in Massachusetts.

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