- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - State health officials plan to let the public know early next week which companies, nonprofits or other entities bid for licenses to grow and distribute medical marijuana.

Before Friday’s application deadline closed, several bidders had announced proposals, including some now running similar programs in other states. New York’s health department is expected to grant up to five licenses this summer, with each recipient allowed to establish up to four dispensaries.

Under the law signed last July, patients with cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and certain other medical conditions will be able to obtain versions of the drug that can be ingested or vaporized. Also included in the final regulations are certain spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies and Huntington’s disease and symptoms including severe or chronic pain, seizures, severe nausea, persistent muscle spasms and wasting syndrome.

“Smoking is not an approved route of administration,” the department said in its final regulations.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, 23 other states have passed medical marijuana laws, while four - Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington - have legalized it for adult use like alcohol.

Empire State Compassionate Care said it’s owned and operated by the same group as Garden State Dispensary, a nonprofit that produces and dispenses most of the medical marijuana in New Jersey’s program. The organization has also already announced that it has a labor peace agreement with the union that will represent medical marijuana workers in New York once the program becomes operational. It proposes opening its manufacturing facility in Orange County and dispensaries in Cheektowaga, Syracuse, Hempstead and Manhattan.

Valley Agriceuticals, in Purchase, said it also already has a union peace agreement and has stated construction of a manufacturing facility in Orange County. It proposes distribution centers in Manhattan as well as Albany, Monroe and Westchester counties.

PalliaTech, based on Long Island, said its application was filed Friday and it has secured a facility for manufacturing outside Plattsburgh in northern New York, as well as leases for four dispensary sites in Brooklyn, Rochester, Newburgh and Utica. The company said it has cultivation, manufacturing and dispensary operations in New Jersey, Illinois and Montana.

North Shore-LIJ said it joined with the founding partners of Silverpeak Apothecary, which built and manages a cannabis operation in Colorado, to bid. The health system, with 19 hospitals and more than 400 outpatient practices in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, also proposed a research program for testing medical marijuana for reducing disease symptoms.

Far(m)ed New York LLC said it’s led by a Buffalo doctors’ group and its application proposes a growing and processing center in Niagara County with dispensaries in Cheektowaga, Henrietta, North Syracuse and Binghamton.

Alternative Medicine Associates LLC, another physician-led bidder, proposed an indoor cultivation center in Buffalo and dispensaries in Cheektowaga, Webster, Binghamton and Syracuse.

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