Hospitals Back Providers Applying for New York State Marijuana Licenses
New York’s new medical marijuana program has drawn the interest of several major hospitals, which have formed alliances with aspiring growers to try to make the drug accessible to their patients.
Friday was the deadline for companies to apply to become one of up to five licensed medical marijuana producers and distributors in the state. The State Health Department said on Friday that it was not yet able to release the number or names of the companies that had applied.
But one hospital group, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, with a heavy presence in and east of New York City, announced that it had applied for a license in partnership with Silverpeak Apothecary, a medical marijuana company based in Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized for medical and recreational use. A new company, Silverpeak NY, was created for the application.
Michael Dowling, chief executive of the North Shore-L.I.J. system, said in a statement that it had formed the partnership because it “recognizes the importance of our patients having access to every legal option to manage the symptoms of their illness, if there is clinical evidence to support marijuana’s use for the condition.”
Hospitals seeking a foothold in medical marijuana are generally academic medical centers that could use access to the drug to research its impact on diseases like Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and cancer. Licensure could also ensure that their patients would have access to the drug, since insurance companies do not cover medical marijuana.
GNYHA Ventures, the business arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association, a hospital trade group, is also part of an application, according to a spokeswoman for the group. The association did not release further details on Friday.
Two other major academic medical centers, the University of Rochester Medical Center and Mount Sinai Health System in Manhattan, said they had been in talks with one or more companies that had applied for a license and would work with them if they were chosen by the state. But the medical centers said they were not applying themselves for medical marijuana licenses.
Peter Robinson, chief operating officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center, said that the medical center had entered into talks, not contracts, with any companies it supported, but that the center was “positively encouraged” it would have “relationships going forward if they get one of the licenses.” He said Rochester Medical Center would not have an on-site dispensary, because of difficulties with having for-profit activity inside of a nonprofit medical center.
The Health Department expects to choose up to five producers within the next month or so, officials said. Those five producers would each be able to run up to four medical marijuana dispensaries in various parts of the state.
Applicants have to show that they have rights to the real estate necessary to produce and distribute the marijuana. The drug is supposed to become available to patients in January.
It will be available for only 10 conditions specified in the law, and it will take the form of drops, vapor or capsules and cannot be smoked or put into edibles.