New York MMJ off to sluggish start

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.

Last summer, New York awarded five companies licenses that allow them to operate one cultivation site and four dispensaries each. Eight of the allotted 20 dispensaries in New York opened Thursday.

Neither of the two upstate New York locations that Etain opened on Thursday – in Albany, the state capital, and Kingston, about 100 miles north of New York City – saw patients, company COO Hillary Peckham said..

In New York City, Columbia Care’s much-hyped Union Square location saw just a “trickle of patients,” according to the New York Times.

In the central New York region, there are three dispensaries that will open this month, but no MMJ-certified doctors practice in the area, according to a local news report.

At least one business owner – Vireo Health of New York CEO Ari Hoffnung, whose parent company is in Minnesota – told Marijuana Business Daily that he would not be discouraged by a slow start.

“My experience in Minnesota indicates that the number early on is likely to be extraordinarily low and we’re not going to be making any extrapolations based on day one numbers,” Hoffnung said.