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43 Companies Seeking New York Medical Marijuana Licenses

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The race for one of New York’s medical marijuana licenses is underway. More than 40 different companies have laid out their plans for both growing facilities and distribution sites. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has the latest on a handful of proposed businesses in our backyard.

Across the state, 43 different companies are hoping to secure one of New York’s medical marijuana licenses. Under the law signed last year, companies must both grow and distribute the drug through designated dispensaries. The drug cannot be smoked and the dispensaries cannot sell other pharmaceutical products.

Last week, Fiorello Pharmaceuticals announced its plans to open a grow facility in Glenville in Schenectady County.

Founder and President Ari Hoffnung said the company selected the Capital Region location for its central location and business-friendly community.

“And when you reflect on the Capital Region’s talent’s footprint, it becomes clear that the region is a academic and healthcare hub with a highly-skilled workforce,” said Hoffnung.

Fiorello’s Glenville site would be located at the Glenville Business and Technology Park. The company hopes to hire 100 workers and says it would invest $10 million in the property.

The company also said it plans to invest $5 million in research dollars to institutions across New York, including $1 million in the Capital Region. It plans to release more details in the weeks ahead.

Again, Ari Hoffnung.

“We believe that research and development is key to being a successful pharmaceutical company. Being a New York pharmaceutical company, we think it’s appropriate to invest in the best minds and institutions in our state.”

Other companies, Compassionate Relief Centers and Etain, are looking to grow the drug at locations in Cambridge in Washington County and in Chester, in Warren County, respectively.

Another company, Empire State Health Solutions, is hoping to begin medical marijuana production at the Tryon Industrial Park in Fulton County.

Dispensaries, however, are another issue.

Fiorello plans to open sites in Long Island, Westchester County, Syracuse, and Rochester.

The company North Country Roots is looking to site its grow facility in Plattsburgh, but open dispensaries in St. Lawrence County, Utica, Plattsburgh, and Halfmoon in Saratoga County.

President and CEO Doug Butdorf told WAMC that its distribution area would cover about 30 percent of the state, albeit an area with a lower population.

Butdorf said, “It’s important that the state ensures access to the medicine for patients across the state, not just near metropolitan areas.”

North Country Roots is looking to employ about 60 employees initially between dispensaries and its production facility.

As reported in the Daily Gazette this week, Orange County-based CanniCare is hoping to open dispensaries in Manhattan, Rockland County, Rochester, and Schenectady.

Ted Berdnt of Compassionate Relief Centers said he expects the Washington County-based company to employ about 25 workers at its production facility and an equal amount at dispensaries in Colonie, Plattsburgh, Manhattan, and Westchester County.

“I think that some of the projections for jobs are a little bit inflated,” said Berndt.

Etain is seeking dispensaries in Syracuse, Yonkers, the Town of Ulster, and downtown Albany.

Spokesman Steve Stallmer said he expects news from the Department of Health to come down soon.

“We hope selections are made in the next couple of weeks. We’ve been told to expect something in July – so everybody is anxious and nervous.”

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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