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Medical marijuana dispensaries coming to New York, but not Brooklyn

Sunset Park will not be getting a medical marijuana dispensary any time soon.

While unanimous support for such a facility to open at 800 Third Avenue was garnered at a Community Board 7 committee meeting last month, no location in Brooklyn was chosen by the State Department of Health either to manufacture or dispense medical marijuana. Rather, within the borders of New York City, the state opted for locations in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx to receive medical marijuana licenses.

Mindful Medical, a medical marijuana dispensary out of Colorado, presented preliminary plans for a Sunset Park dispensary to Community Board 7 on Wednesday, July 29, and the six committee members voted unanimously in favor of a resolution in support of the plan.

Unfortunately, the State Department of Health did not share the same view.

“I am extremely disappointed in the decision by the State Department of Health to not grant Brooklyn a license to manufacture or dispense medical marijuana, a decision that translates into lost local jobs and lost local access to critical health care,” said Borough President Eric Adams. “No borough or county has been more vocal or clear in their support for hosting a medical marijuana facility than Brooklyn, the fourth largest city in the United States which has a significant population of patients in need of palliative care.”

The medical marijuana program came about in 2014 when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law in July. According to New York State’s website, the law allows patients who suffer from designated serious conditions to be certified by their physicians to receive marijuana for medical use.

At the time, Cuomo called it “another step forward to provide much-needed relief to New Yorkers living with extraordinary pain, while balancing the need to safeguard general public health and safety.

“These regulations,” Cuomo said, “are designed with that in mind, so that we can alleviate suffering for patients with serious conditions while also ensuring that medical marijuana is dispensed and administered responsibly.”

Adams, however, feels that Cuomo is not addressing the need for a dispensary in Brooklyn with enough urgency.

“Governor Cuomo continues to send the wrong message to his state’s largest county, a county that time and again has been denied its fair share of resources and attention from leadership in Albany,” Adams said. “My team and I have actively met and worked with companies that are interested in opening for business in our borough, including two firms, Mindful Medical and PalliaTech, that had applied to operate in Sunset Park and Downtown Brooklyn, respectively. Instead of approving either of these applications, the choice was instead made to issue licenses that will provide for two dispensaries in Manhattan and none for a borough with almost 40 percent more residents.”

The criteria for acceptance into the medical marijuana program were based on a rigorous scoring system, according to the New York State website.

The state received 43 applicants by the June 2015 deadline, each evaluated based on a 10 category system that included product manufacturing, security, transportation and distribution, sales and dispensing, quality assurance and staffing, real property and equipment, geographical distribution, architectural design, financial standing, and other miscellaneous factors. The companies were then given a weighted total score—with 125 points set as the highest.

The five companies that were selected all had scores above 90.59. Mindful Medical scored in at 78.75 with 19 companies scoring higher.

The five companies granted medical marijuana licenses in New York are: Bloomfield Industries Inc.; Columbia Care NY LLC; Empire State Health Solutions; Etain, LLC; and PharmaCann LLC.

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