NYS Department of Health Announces January 7 Launch of Medical Marijuana Program

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 5, 2016) - The New York State Department of Health (DOH) today announced the State's Medical Marijuana Program will launch on January 7 as scheduled --- 18 months after Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act. The program will make approved forms of medical marijuana, which has been shown to help alleviate pain and enhance the quality of life for individuals suffering from certain diseases, available with a physician's certification at designated dispensaries across New York State.

The program provides access to medical marijuana to certified patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, intractable spasticity caused by damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies and Huntington's disease.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Governor Cuomo gave us an extremely ambitious timeline to get the Medical Marijuana Program up and running, and I am pleased that we have met his goals. Our program ensures the availability of pharmaceutical-grade medical marijuana products for certified patients and establishes strict regulatory controls to protect public health and safety."

Patients who may qualify for the program are strongly encouraged to talk to their doctors about whether medical marijuana can benefit them. Nearly 150 doctors from across the State have already registered for the program and can certify their patients, if clinically appropriate for their qualifying condition consistent with the DOH's guidance and regulations.

In order to obtain medical marijuana, a patient must receive a DOH Medical Marijuana Program certification from a registered physician. The patient must then access DOH's online Patient Registration System to apply for a registry identification card. Additional information regarding registration can be found at: http://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/patients/.

To apply for a registry card, certified patients will need: a valid DOH Medical Marijuana Program certification form issued and signed by a registered practitioner, photographic identification, documentation of his or her temporary or permanent New York State residency, and designated caregiver information, if applicable. A patient who is under the age of eighteen or who is otherwise incapable of consenting must apply through a proxy.

Patients with valid registry identification cards are then eligible to purchase medical marijuana from one of the dispensing locations across the State. DOH selected five Registered Organizations on July 31, 2015 to grow marijuana and manufacture it into approved forms. Each Registered Organization operates a manufacturing facility and four dispensing facilities.

The Registered Organizations have been working aggressively over the past several months in collaboration with the DOH to make approved medical marijuana products available to patients. Information on the Registered Organizations can be found here: http://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/application/.

Eight dispensing facilities will open for business on January 7 in Onondaga, Erie, Albany, Ulster and Westchester Counties, and in Manhattan. Locations of the dispensing facilities can be found on the DOH website: http://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/application/selected_applicants.htm.

The additional dispensing sites will open on a rolling basis in locations across the State throughout the month. DOH has also requested that each Registered Organization develop a delivery option to ensure full access to patients who are unable to travel to a dispensary location due to their medical condition, or if their designated caregivers cannot obtain it for them. Registered Organizations will be able to provide information on pricing, including reduced pricing options, on January 7.

More information on New York's Medical Marijuana program can be found here: http://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.

Officials from the five Registered Organizations commended DOH on the implementation of the program.

Colette Bellefleur, COO of Bloomfield Industries said, "Bloomfield Industries has been working collaboratively with the NYS Department of Health to get our medicine approved and our facilities up and running safely and successfully. The Department has been extremely supportive and flexible and deserves a great deal of credit for getting the program operational so quickly. We look forward to delivering on the promise of the Compassionate Care Act for patients who are suffering throughout New York State."

Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health of New York, said, "When you consider the Empire State's economic footprint in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and agriculture, no other state can match our expertise or is better positioned to assume a leadership role in the medical cannabis industry. We are excited about creating living wage jobs for New Yorkers of all educational backgrounds in our Upstate New York cultivation and lab facility and in our dispensaries throughout the State.And we are looking forward to serving patients in New York with our best-in-class cannabis-based medications and top-quality patient care."

Hillary Peckham, COO of Etain, LLC, said "Etainhas been working closely with New York State and we are proud to be able to provide patients with the medicine they need. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and the Department of Health for making this program possible for New York's patients in need who will benefit from the program."

Teddy Scott, CEO of PharmaCann, LLC, said, "We are excited to be a part of the historic launch of the medical marijuana program in New York. The amount of coordinated effort that has been required and accomplished by the state officials and the registered organizations in order to build this complex program is truly amazing. We look forward to the launch and continuing growth and development of the program."

Nicholas Vita, CEO of Columbia Care, said, "As one of the nation's leading medical marijuana companies, Columbia Care is proud and honored to be an inaugural partner in New York's Compassionate Care Act. We would like to thank the Governor, the Department of Health, Members of the Senate and Assembly, as well as local elected officials and members of the law enforcement community for their leadership, compassion and tremendous support throughout this process."