BY R.J. DELUKE
New York state is expected to take the
next big step in its plan to provide medical
marijuana to patients with ailments including
cancer, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS),
Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
There are 43 applications being considered
by the state. One of them is from a group
that would cultivate its crop in Plattsburgh
and wants to locate one of its dispensaries
Among the others is a location just to
the north in the Washington County town of
Jackson–north of Cambridge and east of
Greenwich– on Plains Road.
In July 2014, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the
state Legislature enacted the Compassionate
Care Act. It lays out the rules for the program
and how it would be regulated and dispensed.
Douglas Butdorf of North Country Roots
in Plattsburgh has the application to grow
marijuana in Plattsburgh. He said he has a
lease on a building in Halfmoon and is approaching
officials about what he needs to get
the ball rolling–if he’s successful in getting
a state license.
The companies who are awarded licenses
will be permitted to open as many as four
For any county that contains one of the
licensed growing sites, for every $10 million in
revenue, the host county would get $160,000.
There is also a 7 percent state excise tax on
all the proceeds from sales. Host counties
for growing facilities would get 22.5 percent
of that 7 percent. Host counties where the
dispensaries are located would also get a
percentage of that tax revenue.
Butdorf noted the excise tax “is not receipt driven. Patients will not see the tax on their
receipt. It is a 7 percent tax taken off the top
on total sales.”
If things go as Butdorf hopes, Saratoga
County would get an occasional check from
New York state via the excise tax setup.
If the dispensary is running, he will employ
8-15 people, “depending upon how fast
patients come on board with the New York
state medical marijuana program,” he said.
If license is approved in July, his group
would take three to four months to retrofit
the building “and go from there.”
The Washington County application was
filed by Ted Berndt who bought the Washington
County Agri-Business Park in a tax
auction with thoughts of turning it into an
agri-buisness park. There are “various valueadded
agricultural activities” in the park
currently, he said.
“We’ve put in an application for a cultivation
site in the town of Jackson, in Washington
County,” he said. The marijuana cultivation
space would be a 12-acre secured site.
“We have a tremendous amount of public
support, local county and state,” he noted.
In March, the Washington County Board
of Supervisors passed a resolution of support
and Berndt also received a letter of support
from the Washington County Local Development
Berndt owns the site in a partnership with
other farmers in the area.
He said if the license is successful, it will
be leased as Compassionate Relief Centers of
New York, which will conduct the business. He
also has leases on four other sites, two upstate
and two downstate, that would become the dispensaries.
Berndt anticipates 25-30 jobs being created
at the site, “meaningful agricultural jobs in
Washington County” and similar numbers
at the dispensaries. He did not name where
those would be.
Berndt said the state Department of Health
told him the time line for finding out who gets
a license is early July, but with over 40 applicants,
it might take longer, he thinks.
“We are in a fully funded partnership with
the Greater New York Hospital Association”
and its for-profit arm, said Berndt.
“We see it as a patient health care delivery
issue, so partnering with a hospital is the
best way to do it,” he said. “We think we’ve
got a very good application … We’ll see how
it shakes out.”
Greater New York Hospital Association is
a trade association comprising nearly 250
hospitals and continuing care facilities, both
voluntary and public throughout the state, as
well as New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode
Island. It helps hospitals deliver patient care
in the most cost-effective way.
According to its website, it operates the
largest business enterprise of any trade association
in the U.S. through its for-profit arm,
GNYHA Ventures Inc. These efforts generate
billions in commerce while also delivering
value for its members. Working with the Association,
GNYHA Ventures, Inc. navigates the
world of business advocacy to help improve
hospital operations and to provide industryleading
transparency and cost reduction.
The 43 applicants were required to pay two
fees. One is a $200,000 fee. All unsuccessful
applicants will receive a refund for that fee.
The other $10,000 fee is non-refundable. That
means the state will end up collecting $1.43
million from the application process.
Cuomo said in 2014 that the program is a
step forward “to provide much-needed relief
to New Yorkers living with extraordinary pain,
while balancing the need to safeguard general
public health and safety.”
He said the proposed regulations “are
designed with that in mind, so that we can
alleviate suffering for patients with serious
conditions while also ensuring that medical
marijuana is dispensed and administered
Entities that wanted to manufacture and
distribute medical marijuana applied through
the Department of Health.
Registered organization licenses will last
for two-years, state officials said. Registered
organizations would be required to maintain
separate facilities for manufacturing and
dispensing medical marijuana and would have
to meet strict security guidelines.
The DOH commissioner would approve the
forms and delivery systems through which
medical marijuana could be offered, excluding
smoking, which will be prohibited. Each
registered organization would initially be permitted
to produce up to five types of medical
marijuana products. Independent laboratory
testing would verify cannabinoid content to
“Our goal is to ensure that New Yorkers have
access to the treatment they need through
a controlled, regulated process,” said acting
Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “As an
added level of security, physicians must review
their patients’ history of controlled substances
in the I-STOP database before a certification
can be issued and before medical marijuana
can be dispensed.”
Registered organizations will be able to
dispense up to a 30-day supply of medical
marijuana to certified patients with a valid
registry identification card. Patients may
only possess up to a 30-day supply of medical
marijuana. The medical marijuana will be
dispensed in a sealed and properly labeled
package, with a safety insert included.
Patients must keep the medical marijuana
in the original packaging in which it was
The program will make medical marijuana
accessible to patients with conditions including
cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s
disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the
nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective
neurological indication of intractable
spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel
disease, neuropathies and Huntington’s
disease. The law includes these conditions
when there is a clinical association with
or complication of the condition resulting
in cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or
chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures; or
severe or persistent muscle spasms.