At the end of July, New York officials announced the five companies that would be awarded licenses to sell medical marijuana, three of which plan to open dispensaries in Albany County.
Empire State Health Solutions, Etain, LLC, and PharmaCann LLC, are three companies approved to begin operating medical marijuana facilities with plans to make their marks in Albany County. Columbia Care NY LLC and Bloomfield Industries Inc. are the remaining two awarded the licenses Friday, July 31.
Regulations are strict for the companies, coming with requirements for pharmacists to attend a four-hour course with the state Department of Health. Patients approved to receive the medical marijuana must obtain an identification card.
According to the law, approved forms of the drug include liquid or oil, to be administered orally, sublingual for under the tongue, liquid or oil for vaporization, or orally administered capsules. Smoking is not certified under the Compassionate Care Act.
Of the five approved companies, none of them have proposed a manufacturing facility in Albany County. On Tuesday, July 28, the Town of Colonie Planning Board saw a sketch plan from the Canada-based company Tilray, which proposed a manufacturing facility in Latham; however, Tilray was not awarded a license.
In the coming weeks, Empire State Health Solutions will appear before the Colonie Zoning Board of Appeals with an application for a dispensary at 110 Wolf Road. The company will open its manufacturing facility in Fulton County.
“We have preliminary zoning approval within the next month or so,” said Michael Newell, COO of Empire State. “We’re going to start working with architects to design it and fit out the inside and go through all the zoning and planning board procedures.”
Beyond the usual zoning and planning board approvals and requirements, there are no specific town codes that address the dispensaries. Newell said the plan is to open January 1, 2016—the first allowable date by the state.
Empire State currently dispenses medical marijuana in Minnesota, where Newell said regulations are similar to those in New York.
“We have a medical scientific-based model that fit very well with the New York state regulations,” he said.
Along with ensuring the dispensaries and manufacturing plants abide by state-specific regulations, Newell said the biggest component of the dispensaries is patient comfort and accessibility when patients come in to pick up the medication.
“Our central location makes Colonie a good place to serve the wider community,” said Supervisor Paula Mahan. “If the medical marijuana dispensary proposed for Wolf Road is permitted use under the Town’s zoning laws, as it appears to be, we would not oppose it. New York’s medical marijuana laws are very strict and appropriate safeguards will be in force.”
Newell agreed. He said Empire State Health Solutions looked at Colonie due to its location, and Wolf Road specifically because of its easy access for patients throughout the Capital District.
PharmaCann LLC is the second company expected to set up a dispensary in the county, specifically near Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland. Its manufacturing plant will be in Orange County.
Etain is the third, a Katonah-based company owned by Hillary Peckham and her two daughters. The manufacturing facility will be in Warren County.
Although many of the selected companies are looking to set up shop around central or southern New York, Newell said Empire State is not worried about oversaturation in the market.
“I think there will be enough demand. It’s a unique business because it’s a new business in New York, so that will make it pretty interesting as well,” Newell said.