The battle to legalize medical marijuana in New York was not easy. New York does not have an initiative system, so the only way to achieve marijuana reform is via the New York Legislature, which has not exactly been friendly when it comes to marijuana policy. But after a long battle and a ton of effort, activists were able to get New York's Legislature to pass a medical marijuana bill, and to get New York's Governor to sign it. That was one phase of the battle.
The second phase of the battle was getting safe access in place to help New York's suffering patients. New York passed one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country, and the newly created program doesn't allow patients to grow their own medicine. The only way a patient can get legal medical marijuana is to buy it at a dispensary, which has taken awhile to get one open. It appears that all changes tomorrow when New York's medical marijuana program starts serving customers. Per New York Daily News:
State officials will formally launch New York's medical marijuana program on Thursday and at least one city pot dispensary expects to be ready.
"New York State's Medical Marijuana Program is scheduled to launch on January 7, 2016, just 18 months after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act," Health Department spokesman James Plastiras said in an email to reporters late Monday afternoon.
"More information and details on the program will be released shortly," Plastiras added.
Columbia Care, one of five companies licensed to grow marijuana in New York, announced Monday that its Union Square dispensary plans to open Thursday.
This has been a long time coming. Patients have waited a very long time in New York, and hopefully some of them will now find relief. I really hope we don't see a ton of price gouging going on as the program launches, which seems to happen quite often in the marijuana industry. I get that the handful of companies that won licenses in New York need to turn a profit, but I also feel that needs to be balanced with compassion. The license winners in New York already have deep pockets, so I hope that they keep that in mind when they are serving patients.