A state-regulated medical marijuana dispensary center may soon open shop across the street from the Queens Center mall in Elmhurst.
Empire State Health Solutions, one of five organizations that the state Health Department selected to produce and/or distribute medicinal marijuana, will open a location at 89-55 Queens Blvd., a building that currently houses a Casual Male XL store and an AT&T Wireless customer care center, according to NY1. It will be one of four marijuana dispensary centers to open in New York City.
As the Health Department announced on Friday, the organizations’ selection clears a major hurdle in the state’s implementation of provisions in the Compassionate Care Act enacted in 2014, which authorized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in New York State. The medical marijuana program is on target for implementation by January 2016, about 18 months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.
The production and distribution of medical marijuana in New York State will be heavily regulated and restricted to patients deemed qualified to receive it based on debilitating conditions. The state-sanctioned organizations will be permitted to make and sell via prescription up to five different marijuana products: oil for vaporization, oral capsules, oral sprays, injectable tubes and sublingual (under the tongue) dissolvable tablets.
Marijuana will not be provided in either loose, edible or cigarette forms.
The exact location of the dispensary center was reported by various media outlets, but the Health Department did not confirm such information, according to state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. She claimed in a phone interview that she only learned of the center’s opening — which is located within her district — through reading published reports largely based on information leaked to the press by unnamed sources.
“The notification process is lacking in transparency,” Stavisky said. “That’s not a good sign.”
Despite the communication gap, the senator believes the use of medicinal marijuana will bring a great deal of relief to patients in need — and that the law itself has enough safeguards to block recreational use.
“People have to understand that this is not going to be Colorado,” Stavisky said, referring to one of two states that legalized recreational marijuana use. “It’s for use in people with very serious or debilitating ailments…This is not something for someone looking for a quick high.”
To that end, the senator pointed out that the regulations require that only doctors may prescribe medicinal marijuana to a patient; that doctors must undergo an extensive training program to learn the conditions that would qualify a patient to receive medical marijuana; and that a qualified patient must be deemed disabled under the Civil Rights Law.
State Senator Michael Gianaris — who, like Stavisky, supported the Compassionate Care Act —welcomed the Health Department’s announcement on medical marijuana.
“It is welcome news for our economy when new jobs are created in our neighborhoods,” Gianaris said in a statement. “I look forward to working with this new local business to ensure it is a good corporate neighbor to existing residents.”