When New York legalized medical marijuana roughly 1.5 years ago, it was very exciting. New York has one of the largest populations in the country, and there are no doubt a huge number of people that would benefit from medical marijuana. I remember having so much hope at that time.
Then the process of implementing the law started to drag on, and the program became more and more restrictive. Then it was announced that only a small handful of companies would be granted licenses to produce and/or sell medical marijuana. That resulted in companies fighting very hard and spending huge sums of money to get one of the 'lucrative' licenses.
New York's medical marijuana program finally launched on Thursday last week, and the numbers showed that the program's launch was much smaller than expected. Per Marijuana Business Daily:
New York marijuana business leaders expected a slow start to the state's medical marijuana program, which officially launched yesterday. But not this slow.
Only a handful of patients visited dispensaries on opening day - an unprecedentedly low number for a program launch.
What's the problem? New York has thus far registered only 51 patients, state health department officials told reporters. There are also fewer than 150 physicians registered to prescribe medical marijuana, and the health department has not made the list of certified physicians public yet.
On Thursday there were 8 dispensaries open. Assuming that every patient visited a dispensary (which I don't think that they did), that would mean each dispensary would serve between 6 to 7 customers. Considering how much money those companies payed in order to operate those dispensaries, that's pretty rough. But what is even rougher is the plight of the patients.
If there are so few patients, it's because New York's medical marijuana program is too restrictive. There needs to be way more qualifying conditions to become a patient or the program will never get off the ground. Safe access is great, but only for those patients that can qualify for that safe access.