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Struggling New York Medical Marijuana Growers Fear Competition

Katelyn Baker

Well-Known Member
Albany - Medical marijuana producers in New York are warning that a state plan to add more growers will make their already struggling businesses go up in smoke, the Daily News has learned.

In a letter to the state Health Department, the trade group representing New York's five licensed pot producers said the existing growers are "sustaining tremendous operating losses" and would be hard-pressed to survive if the department follows through on its plan.

"This market will be incapable of supporting both current and additional registered organizations until patient participation is drastically increased," the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association wrote in the Nov. 28 letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily News.

The letter indicated that, despite claims of success by state officials, New York's fledgling medical marijuana program is struggling to get off the ground and may be - as critics have charged - too restrictive.

As of Nov. 29, only 10,730 patients had been certified by their doctors to receive medical marijuana and only 750 physicians had registered with the state to become eligible to approve patients for the drug.

The association urged the Health Department to do more to encourage doctors to sign up for the program and make it easier for patients to find them.

"Economically speaking, the current challenges in New York's medical marijuana market stem not from supply but entirely from patient demand," the association wrote.

New York's medical marijuana program launched in January with five licensed growers each operating four dispensaries. The state has announced plans to add five additional growers over the next two years.

"Ensuring patients are able to get the relief they need is our top priority," the Health Department said in a statement. "That said, we're undertaking a cautious, phased-in approach to ensure a smooth integration of five additional registered organizations into the industry during the next two years. The parameters of that expansion, including the timing of any entry and the location of dispensaries, are still being examined carefully."

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), one of the Legislature's biggest proponents of medical marijuana, said the growers' concerns do not surprise him.

"So far, our system has been very restrictive in a variety of ways that make it difficult for patients to get access to (medical marijuana)," Gottfried said.

Instead of adding growers, the health department should look at ways to improve patient access, such as adding new dispensaries, Gottfried said.

"I think the biggest need is more dispensaries," Gottfried said.

Gottfried also said recent Health Department moves to add chronic pain to list of 10 diseases eligible for medical marijuana and to make nurse practitioners and physicians assistants eligible to certify patients for the drug would also help expand patient access.

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News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Struggling New York Medical Marijuana Growers Fear More Competition May Nip Their Businesses In The Bud
Author: Glenn Blain
Contact: (212) 210-2100
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Website: Daily News
 
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