On Thursday, New York State opened its first medical marijuana dispensaries. The move has launched one of the most conservative and strongly monitored programs of its type in the United States.
If we talk about opening the clinics, New York has joined 22 other states and Washington, DC, with broad medical marijuana programs planned for helping ease symptoms of patients suffering from AIDS, cancer and other serious diseases.
The program launched by New York is a far cry from the ones belonging to states, including California, having dispensaries in hundreds, many with neon lights and display cases filled with smokable buds sporting names like Candyland Kush and Cookie Wreck.
Patients have to pass through multiple layers of security just to make an entry at the Columbia Care medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Manhattan. A specially trained pharmacist has been assigned to every patient. The pharmacist gives out from a supply of marijuana extract capsules, oils and tinctures, which are locked secretly in an underground vault.
New York’s restrictive approach has been applauded by medical researchers and academics. They said the state’s tight controls over prescribing, dosing and other aspects of the program will give way to more reliable study of medical marijuana’s efficacy.
Edward M. Bednarczyk, the State University of New York at Buffalo’s pharmacy practice chair, said, “They’re trying to put the medical back in medical marijuana and not make it the farce that it has become in some states”.
Columbia Care is one of the eight dispensaries that have opened their doors on Thursday. It has taken place a year and a half after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that authorized the program, called Compassionate Care NY.
As part of the initiative, the state has given license of manufacturing and selling medical marijuana to five organizations with each one permitted to operate four dispensaries. All the dispensaries are likely to run by this month’s end.