New York’s medical marijuana law, known as the Compassionate Care Act, launched just last month but has been the target of harsh criticism since Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it in July of 2014. Now Albany’s biggest advocate for legal medical marijuana, Manhattan assemblyman Richard Gottfried, has proposed legislation to improve the program. Gottfried, who originally introduced the measure in 1997, has been among the most forthright critics of the version that was eventually made into law.
Albany’s latest legislative session began less than a month ago, and already Gottfried proposed a new bill that would direct the New York State Department of Health to approve at least five more companies — called “registered organizations” — to grow and sell medical marijuana. The current law allows only five companies to produce and market the products. “In order to speed up the process, it authorizes the [health]department to consider the information that was submitted by various applicants in last year’s licensing process,” Gottfried tells the Voice. The department, in other words, could look at the runners-up from the 43 companies that competed for the five coveted licenses.
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