NEW YORK: At last, New Yorkers with serious medical conditions including cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, MS, and severe chronic pain will be able to access medical marijuana. Sponsored by NYS Senator Diane Savino, New York State’s Compassionate Care Act, passed on June 23, 2014, and the recent passage of the emergency access bill accelerates the original January, 2016 implementation date. With the alleys of Wall Street already known for years to be fragrant with the scent of cannabis, it’s no surprise that big business has been sniffing around to see where they can gain advantage.
With New York City leading the way with its revolutionary Smoke Free Air Act of 2002, updated in 2009 to include hospitals, and the New York State Clean Indoor Air Act of 2003, it makes sense that the Compassionate Care Act specifically prohibits smoking and instead mandates that marijuana extracts be ingested in vapor, oil or pill forms. With New York State’s abundant agricultural bounty, growing marijuana locally, farmer’s market style for those of us in the city, makes perfect sense. It would follow that the excellent doctors of New York State with proven experience prescribing botanical medicine and controlled substances in clinical and research settings in the management of intractable conditions be at the forefront of medical marijuana. But when there’s money involved, and with health care and marijuana becoming industries, how could it be so simple? In 2016 alone, medical marijuana revenues statewide are estimated to reach 239 million, and by 2020, over 1.2 billion, generating generous state tax revenues. Investors, venture capitalists, hopeful speculators, and Wall Streeters are circling like vultures, attending food service courses and $900 a plate expos hosted by tanning salon entrepreneurs. Only 5 licenses to grow and process medical marijuana will be granted, each license providing for 4 dispensaries, a total of only 20 for all of New York State.