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Licenses granted by DOH to five new medical marijuana firms

The New York State Department of Health made headlines earlier this week when it announced that the cultivation, production and sale of medical marijuana was going to be greatly expanded moving forward with the granting of licenses to five new firms.

The move, which brings the number of "registered organizations" licensed to take part in the tightly regulated state program to ten, perhaps comes as little surprise given the DOH's announcement back in May that it had already granted the five entities -- Fiorello Pharmaceuticals, Valley Agriceuticals, New York Canna, PalliaTech NY and Citiva Medical -- conditional approval.

As to why the DOH has elected to effectively double the market for medical marijuana here in the Empire State, officials indicate the move will not only make the product more affordable, but also expand marketplace access and increase product variety.

While figures show that over 25,700 patients are currently registered for medical marijuana and over 1,100 physicians are able to certify patients, the five existing firms have nevertheless experienced considerable financial difficulties since opening their doors.

In fact, the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association filed a lawsuit back in April on behalf of four of the five existing firms seeking to enjoin the DOH from issuing the five new licenses.

Here, the Association argued -- unsuccessfully -- that the DOH lacked the legal authority to make such a move and, if permitted, the granting of the five new licenses would jeopardize the industry given the limited demand.  

It's worth noting that the state has previously introduced changes to the medical marijuana program in a bid to boost patient counts, including:

  • Adding chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions
  • Publishing a list of physicians, physician assistant and nurse practitioners registered to certify patients

Furthermore, lawmakers passed a bill earlier this summer calling for post-traumatic stress disorder to be added to list of qualifying conditions. The bill has yet to make it to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

It will be interesting to see how this move by the DOH plays out in the months ahead. Stay tuned for updates …

If you are a professional in the health care arena with questions or concerns relating to regulatory matters or compliance, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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