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North Shore-LIJ Health System, a major New York City hospital network, has partnered with Colorado’s Silverpeak Apothecary in hopes to be approved as one of the state’s few licensed medical marijuana providers.

North Shore-LIJ runs 19 hospitals with an additional 400 outpatient physicians in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County. Silverpeak has operated dispensaries in Colorado since 2009.

The team, working in New York as Silverpeak NY LLC, has enlisted the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research – a research arm for North Shore-LIJ – to develop a program to research marijuana in order to “[advance] the science” behind the drug, according to a press release. The Feinstein Institute has existing research in the field focused on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, chronic pain, epilepsy and neurologic conditions.

“We are extraordinarily proud to be part of such a groundbreaking partnership,” Jordan Lewis, CEO of Silverpeak Apothecary, said in a press release. “North Shore-LIJ’s commitment to patient care, as well as their ongoing efforts to explore new frontiers in medicine is remarkable. The extraordinary vision of their leadership and world-class clinical and research talent will provide a framework in which data driven cannabis therapeutics can thrive. Silverpeak NY is a partnership that will benefit the patients of New York profoundly.”

James Romagnoli, North Shore-LIJ vice president of corporate security and emergency management, describes their proposal as a “vertically integrated system” which will include growing and processing the byproducts of the plants, noting that New York’s law does not allow patients to smoke the drug.

The state will allow five organizations to set up four dispensaries in the state and while Silverpeak NY is hoping to secure their license, another 43 businesses have applied for a license, according to New York Health Department documents. Those documents do not indicate the geographic location of the proposals – further raising the issue of patient access. Just a handful of the companies vying for the New York license are headquartered outside of New York City.

One of the potential upstate licensees, North Country Roots, headquartered in Plattsburgh New York, met with Clifton Park town officials and citizens last April and pitched them the idea of having a dispensary in the small central New York town.

Dahn Bull, director of communications for the Town of Clifton Park, said since that initial meeting they have not heard any other proposals from other potential companies.

“[North Country Roots] were very open about the process about what they were looking into,” Bull said. “They answered questions, they took questions and comments from the public – it was a very cordial discussion.”

Despite their metro location, Stephanie Iannello, public relations specialist for North Shore-LIJ, said that although the hospital operates primarily in the downstate market the organization would be able to make the drug available for a large number of New York patients. Iannello warned that they are still in the early approval stages so it was “too early to tell” whether or not the group would set up dispensaries out of their coverage zones.

“We know our patients and we know their symptoms and, upon state approval, we would eliminate the [access] barrier,” she said.

According to the state Health Department, the drug would be available in January for an approved list of 10 conditions.

Photo Credit: Official U.S. Navy Page

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