New York Needs More Patient Access To Medical Marijuana, Not More Businesses


When it was announced the businesses could apply for medical marijuana cultivation and distribution licenses, some members of the marijuana business community saw it as the chance to strike it rich. After all, New York has one of the largest populations in the country, and only 5 entities were going to receive licenses to operate in New York. At the time I had been contacted by various people asking what I thought about the business buzz that was surrounding New York’s soon-to-be industry.

I was not like a lot of other people, in that I looked at the math and new that there were going to be some seriously rough times before changes are made to New York’s medical marijuana program. The program is one of the most limited in the nation, and while there are many people that could benefit from medical marijuana in New York, a vast majority of those people are not eligible to become registered patients in New York’s medical marijuana program. You could have all of the supply in the world, but if you don’t have patients that can legally purchase the supply, it doesn’t do anyone any good, especially when it comes to the patients.

i don’t know who the people are that contacted me, but they were not happy with what I had to say at the time. They called me a bunch of names and said that I don’t know anything about business (of which there is some truth, admittedly!), etc.. I had similar interactions with people when Illinois was rolling out its licensing process, and I’m sure I will have similar conversations with others in other states when they start accepting medical marijuana business license applications. People get too caught up in the moment, letting their emotions and visions of grandeur get the best of them, which wouldn’t bother me if patients were getting access to the medicine that they need, and at a price that is affordable.

I have never been to New York, and have definitely never purchased medical marijuana from New York, but I’m told me a few patients there that prices are through the roof. That’s not surprising given how much money the 5 companies have spent to get medical marijuana on to a shelf in one of New York’s roughly 20 dispensaries. When licenses are limited, and license holders have paid millions if not tens of millions of dollars to get products to market, those products are going to be expensive. That would be true even if it wasn’t marijuana, but since it’s marijuana and there is so much hype around the industry, high prices are even more expected.

I read an article this morning in The Buffalo News which discussed the struggles of the current medical marijuana companies in New York, and how the number of companies operating in the New York market is expected to double. Issuing more licenses won’t fix the problem that New York’s medical marijuana industry is facing. Only adding more qualifying conditions will make that happen, in addition to making it easier for doctors to sign paperwork to help get a patient registered in the medical marijuana program. New York is a prime example of a state that put the industry before the patients, and as such, companies are losing money at a great clip and will continue to do so until the needs of patients are given a higher priority.

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