Several factors have hindered New York’s medical marijuana program, but the state is working on expanding the program. One step in that process is allowing for more grower licenses to be issued. Cost, inability to find doctors, and access to medicine have caused the program to remain small.
The state will consider those that applied in 2015 first, according to NY Daily News. There will be five new licenses up for grabs. They are expected to be issued in the first half of 2017. Growers will be phased in over the course of the next two years.
Jeremy Unruh of PharmaCann LLC said, “It was a little bit like a kick in the stomach. We already can’t survive as the market stands today.”
The currently licensed growers, such as PharmaCann LLC, aren’t exactly happy with this because they’re already struggling to keep their facilities running due to the lack of patients statewide.
An unidentified industry business owner said, “This misguided attempt to expand the marijuana program could end up killing the program and leaving thousands of patients without access to life-sustaining medicine.”
The Health Department said, “While it is unsurprising that any business might oppose more competition in the market, additional registered organizations will improve patient access to the program throughout New York State, and patients will also benefit from a broader range of available medical marijuana products.”
The most recent count of New York medical marijuana patients was 14,045. Given the long and difficult process of applying for and being certified for medical marijuana, which has accounted for some of the low-patient enrollment numbers.
Ari Hoffnung of Vireo Health said, “It doesn’t matter how many new licenses the state issues, so long that qualifying New Yorkers can’t find a doctor to recommend medical marijuana, patient access to New York’s program will be minimal and we will continue to lag behind other states.”
Some are hoping that the increase in growers will decrease the cost of medical marijuana, helping more patients purchase their medicine. The decrease in cost may also attract more patients to begin the certification process.