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The New York State Health Department announced Friday that it has awarded five licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana in the state.

The five organizations that received licenses plan to open four dispensaries each across the state, and are required by law to be up and running in the next six months.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorized the production and sale of medical marijuana in New York when he signed the Compassionate Care Act in July 2014. The Health Department’s decision to license these five organizations was based on what it stated was a “rigorous and comprehensive” review of the 43 applicants.

The licensed companies are Etain, Bloomfield Industries, PharmaCannis, and Columbia Care. Marijuana sales will be taxed at 7 percent.

The Chief Executive of Columbia Care, Nicholas Vita, said the company plans to invest “double-digit millions” in grow-ops and dispensaries. The company has already obtained approval to open a dispensary on East 14th Street in Manhattan. Spokesman Peter Kerr said the dispensary would be “pleasant, supportive and airy,” but clarified that “everything is a medical operation.”

Some have criticized the state’s licensing process as too restrictive and the overall plan too small. Julie Netherland, a deputy state director at the Drug Policy Alliance, noted that “there are huge areas of the state where patients will have to travel enormous distances to get medicine.”

State Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), though, signaled that the program has room to grow: “To those who did not make the cut, stick around. New York is a very big state.”

Source:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/nyregion/new-york-state-awards-5-medical-marijuana-licenses.html

Photo Credit: Jeff Turner

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