Armed with New York state medicinal marijuana licenses, dispensaries are gearing up to sell cannabis legally in the state in the new year.
The cannabis experiment continues as medicinal marijuana use becomes more widespread. New York state, as an example, has rolled out dispensary licenses and is getting doctors and patients on board. Start-ups are growing local product as rules require, and are preparing for consumer-facing dispensary openings next year.
In total, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use, according to industry watcher GreenWave Advisors. Four states and D.C. allow for recreational use.
One of New York state's five licenses to operate was awarded to health start-up Vireo Health New York, formerly Empire State Health Solutions. They are preparing several dispensary openings — Queens, White Plains, Binghamton and Colonie, right outside of Albany.
Vireo Health CEO Kyle Kingsley said its New York operation had its first legal harvest in November. All product sold under the New York medicinal program has to be grown in the state. (Vireo Health is the parent company of Vireo Health New York.)
"The average patient will be spending around $300 per month," says Kingsley, a former ER doctor who is running a similar operation in Minnesota, where the company Vireo Health is based.
"We want to make a system that is accepted by mainstream medicine to maximize patient access," Kingsley says.
Beyond Vireo Health, additional New York state license winners include Etain, Pharmacannis, Bloomfield Industries and Columbia Care, which will operate one of Manhattan's first dispensaries, right off Union Square.