In a sunny Manhattan hotel restaurant, The National Cannabis Industry Association continued to barnstorm the nation recruiting members and influencing policymakers. Executive Director, F. Aaron Smith welcomed a crowd of nearly 100 professionals eager to be among five private companies licensed to open four seed-to-sale dispensaries each in 2016.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York’s Compassionate Care Act on July 7, 2014. In its current form, the Act will allow those with “severe debilitating or life-threatening”conditions to purchase edibles, vaporizable concentrates and topical creams. Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz lamented the Act’s limits. “20 isn’t enough for Queens.”He promised to revisit the current Act’s ban against smoking and prod New York Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to add PTSD and other ailments to the list of approved medications. Katz opposed medical marijuana legislation earlier this year but now supports it after being arrested and charged with unlawful possession of marijuana while speeding.
Citing the culture of corruption permeating Albany politics, Katz was adamant that a lottery system be used to determine who wins the first licenses. “All applicants will have to have $1 million in an escrow account and are subject to stringent criminal background checks.”
Shortly before signing the Act, Governor Cuomo added language allowing New York governors, DOH Commissioners and State Police to cancel the entire program at any time.
NY Senator Diane J. Savino (D-Staten Island) was instrumental in drafting the legislation. She implored the audience to get involved in the regulatory process. “We need your help to get these legislators on planes and into grow rooms and dispensaries. They need to see it for themselves.”The Marijuana Policy Project estimates that less than 6,000 New Yorkers will be eligible for the program.