Minnesota Company Eyes Medical Marijuana Growth In New York
A company already in business under Minnesota’s strict medical marijuana regulations is eyeing New York’s nascent program as a chance to expand in Fulton County.
The company, Empire State Health Solutions, is one of several that are applying for a state license to manufacture medical marijuana, with the goal of setting up shop at the Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center in Perth, Fulton County.
In pitching themselves to reporters at a news conference on Thursday, the company’s CEO and founder, Dr. Kyle Kingsley, said New York’s regulatory structure is one he’s comfortable with given that he has experience with Minnesota’s strict medical marijuana program.
“It’s our opinion that the New York law is likely the most sound from a medical and scientific stand point, but it does have a close cousin in Minnesota,” he said.
Indeed, the New York measures are similar to what is already in place for Minnesota, where medicinal marijuana cannot be smoked and the number of manufacturers are limited by regulators and where a sister company, Minnesota Medical Solutions LLC, has been operating for a number of years.
“All we know is strict oversight and regulation,” Kingsley said. “We get uncomfortable if we don’t have that.”
Kingsley, a medical doctor who has directed his professional focus on medical marijuana, said he is skeptical of expanding legalized marijuana for recreational use, adding that prescribed medical marijuana is “not a panacea” for all patients.
Still, the competition for the medical marijuana licenses — the state will award five in all — is believed to be especially intense.
“The thing I like about the New York law is this is going to require you to be a medical and scientific organization to have any chance of success,” Kingsley said. “Just the scientific and medical requirements are really going to bring the cream of the crop.”
The facility the company is proposing to use to manufacture medical marijuana, once used as a now-closed juvenile detention center, is within a START-UP NY economic development zone, said Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ralph Ottuso.
“It’s a huge impact on the area. They’re going to create starting up to 20 or 30 jobs, going up to 100.”
Ottuso the county itself hasn’t provided any tax incentives or benefits to the company to entice them to the area. Meanwhile, state regulators should take into consideration the economic struggles of areas when considering which licenses to grant, Ottuso said.
“This is a big kick start to that area,” he said. “They should look at the impact it’s going to have to on the areas — areas in need of economic growth. I believe Fulton County is one of those areas.”
Officials at the state Department of Health pushed back the deadline for accepting license applications has been pushed back to June 5 in order to handle the level of questions over the process. The DOH still expects to begin the program official by January.
The licensing process is underway as some state lawmakers push a measure that would set up a medical marijuana program on what amounts to an emergency basis in order to provide relief to patients, especially children, with severe epilepsy.
It’s unlikely such a measure, which would import medical marijuana from outside the state would be approved.
Even if it was, Kinglsey said there would be no impact on their business.
“It won’t be a large impact on us,” he said, “we are kind of going through the standard channel here in New York.”