Oneida County will receive a medical marijuana dispensary as part of an expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program.
Local patients who wish to use medical marijuana are currently required to travel to Albany or Onondaga counties to pick up their supplies.
But the New York State Department of Health announced Tuesday that it is empowering five other registered organizations to grow marijuana, manufacture medical marijuana products, and sell them in four pharmacies each. That doubles the size of the current program.
Valley Agriceuticals will manufacture its products in Orange County for sale at an undisclosed location pharmacy in Oneida County, as well as pharmacies in Kings, Suffolk and Dutchess.
“The New York State Department of Health is committed to responsibly expanding the state’s medical marijuana program,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in a medical marijuana press release, improving the affordability of medical marijuana products by introducing new competitions and increasing the variety of medical marijuana products available to patients. “
Another registered organization, MedMen, is already growing marijuana in North Utica in the greenhouses of Brightwaters Farms. MedMen bought Bloomfield Industries, one of the originally registered organizations, and moved its growing operations from Queens to Utica in January. But MedMen doesn’t have a pharmacy in the Utica area.
“I’m glad we’re finally getting one,” said Julie Kulawy of New York Mills, whose daughter Mackenzie, 14, has epilepsy, and campaigned for the state’s medical marijuana program. “It is damn time. I’m curious what kind of products they’ll be offering. “
Other newly registered organizations include Citiva Medical, Fiorello Pharmaceuticals, New York Canna (under the name Terradiol New York), and PalliaTech NY. The other manufacturing facilities will be located in Orange County, Schenectady County, Onondaga County and Ulster County, respectively.
And the other pharmacies will be in Dutchess, Chemung, Kings, Richmond, Monroe, Saratoga, New York, Nassau, Erie, Orange, Queens, Suffolk, Orange, and Clinton counties. Counties Kings, Nassau, Queens, Suffolk and Dutchess will each receive two new pharmacies.
The state has attempted to expand the medical marijuana program by recently adding chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions for home delivery, publishing a list of registered providers (including only those who choose to be included ) and registered nurses and medical assistants to certify patients.
As of Wednesday, 25,736 patients had been certified through the program and 1,139 providers have registered to participate, according to state health officials. The number of patients has increased 72 percent since the chronic pain was added in late March.
The program started in January 2016.
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