New York’s Governor signed a medical marijuana legalization bill into law in 2014. The law created one of the most strict medical marijuana laws in the country, and allocated business licenses to only a handful of entities. Those applying for licenses, and especially the winners, seemed to all brag at the time that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. Some of them seemed to have forgotten one very important detail – getting local governments on board.
The ‘not in my backyard’ position is one that some New York municipalities are taking. This will either lead to some dispensaries not opening in those areas at all, or at the very least, will likely lead to delays. New York’s medical marijuana program already had enough problems, and this ‘new’ hurdle won’t help. I say ‘new’ because this is dispensary 101 at this point, and the concept of checking with local governments should have been one of the first steps.
Below is more information about the issue, via excerpts from an article in Capital New York:
Five of the 20 dispensary locations, which the state sanctioned, have not been finalized yet by the local governing body, meaning that patients in large areas of the state could be left without access to the drug.
The apparent lack of readiness alarmed patient advocates, who were already concerned that the state’s program was too limited to provide statewide access.
POLITICO New York called every municipality or community board where a dispensary is scheduled to open. In some cases, local officials and representatives were adamantly opposed. In others, they outlined zoning and permitting concerns. And in still others they were surprised to learn a dispensary would soon come to their neighborhood, even though the state announced locations in August.
The community board representing Elmhurst in Queens, where an Empire State Solutions dispensary is located, said they expect community members to oppose a dispensary in their neighborhood.
As I’ve said many times before, suffering patients in New York deserve better than this. Patients deserve to grow their own medicine, or if they are not able to do so, they should be able to designate someone who can. Dispensaries should exist too for those that have no cultivation options, or would rather just purchase their medicine from a dispensary out of convenience. Instead New York patients get to rely on a handful of entities, many of which it sounds like didn’t do their homework when it came to researching and getting local governments on board with their plans.