NEW YORK: The New York Department of Health is expected to announce either Thursday or Friday which five companies it has selected to award licenses to grow medical marijuana under the Compassionate Care Act. This announcement, first reported by the Daily Freeman News of Kingston, New York, may come as a welcome, if long-awaited, surprise to the 43 companies that filed their applications for medical marijuana growing licenses nearly eight weeks ago. Many began their application prep several months before the licensing application even appeared online. The selection of the winning companies marks a significant step in bringing New York’s medical marijuana program closer to fruition.
The New York “green rush” began on April 27, when the health department posted the “Application to Become a Registered Organization” — which applicants complained consisted of four poorly marked PDFs. The application period was originally slated to remain open for a month, but when the paperwork proved too difficult to complete, the state extended the deadline by a week. Originally, hundreds of companies were expected to apply, but in the end only 43 filed applications.
The small number of state licenses and the promise of big profits have attracted big-money applicants, such as Fiorello Pharmaceuticals, spearheaded by former Bear Stearns executive Ari Hoffnung. Based on data from states like California and Colorado, which have also legalized medical marijuana, research and consulting firm GreenWave Advisors predicts medical marijuana sales in New York could exceed $240 million in the first year. The application fee began at $10,000, and the companies awarded licenses will have to pay an additional $200,000 — but the bulk of the multimillion-dollar licensing budget is for lobbyists, greenhouse architects, and construction of marijuana grow and production facilities. The application requires a detailed plan from “seed to sale,” mapping out everything from greenhouse equipment to transport of the finished product to dispensaries.