If there was any doubt about the national momentum on legalized marijuana use in America, consider this. There will be a medicinal marijuana dispensary right off New York City's Union Square come January 2016.
The dispensary on 14th Street between Second and Third Avenues will be run by Columbia Care, a New York City-based company that was awarded one of the state's five licenses to open a medicinal marijuana shop. The selections were made in July, and companies are moving forward on grand openings.
In total, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow medicinal marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York state allows for medicinal use under the 2014 Compassionate Care Act.
The New York state competition for five licenses was steep: 43 companies across the nation applied for five licenses. Each license allows for the operation of one manufacturing facility and four dispensaries, all of which must be based in New York state.
The New York licenses were awarded from the New York Department of Health. All five licenses were granted to companies that will be growing product in the state.
"We hope to move as closely to a pharmaceutical manufacturing process as we can," said Columbia Care CEO Nicholas Vita.
Additional license winners are Bloomfield Industries, Empire State Health Solutions, Etain and Pharmacannis.
"The New York program is a symbolic step forward in terms of visibility and awareness," says Matthew Karnes, founder of Greenwave Advisors, an industry research firm.