Hundreds vie for just 5 NY medical marijuana licenses

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by Ed Zwirn
Originally published on the NY Post – May 3, 2015. Read the original article here…

The race is on to secure the five licenses to be granted under New York state’s medical marijuana program, which takes effect in January.

And the cash-crop lottery could bring in millions for the winners.

Statewide revenues will likely total $239 million in 2016 and more than $1.2 billion by 2020, according to a report issued by GreenWave Advisors late last year.

“Let the cash register ring for New York state,” says GreenWave’s Matt Karnes.
And there appears to be no shortage of investors looking to dip a hand into this cash register.

Venture capitalists willing to take the plunge include Privateer Holdings and Tilray, both of which have already had a strong presence in the legal marijuana space.

In addition, the buzz would have it that there is a “major Wall Street broker-dealer“ placing a bet, according to one source.

At last count, there were some 300 applicants poised to spend $10,000 apiece to be considered for one of the licenses via applications that were sent out by the state last week, say industry insiders.

Each of the five winners will then have to cough up a $200,000 registration fee in return for being able to grow and sell medical marijuana via as many as four dispensaries each, for a grand total of 20 statewide.

The new program, which is far more restrictive than medical marijuana advocates had hoped, bans smoking the plant but allows the sale of oils, edibles and vapor forms of the drug.

The law allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana only for HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy, some spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis.

“It’s been a circus with respect to all the people who are circling around,“ says Lisa Padilla, a Chelsea attorney who is applying with her wife, Allison Klein, a freelance photographer, for a medical marijuana license.

The business would operate under the “We Cann Heal” moniker and has financial backing from “a couple“ of in-state businessmen, she says.

Padilla and Klein started work on We Cann Heal about a year-and-a-half ago. Klein says her inspiration came when, on a trip to Colorado, she discovered a marijuana-infused transdermal patch that greatly helped her father with his chronic back pain.

Padilla, whose legal practice specializes in financial and estate planning for “nontraditional” families, says that she and Klein have been attempting to bolster their medical marijuana cred by earning food-safety certificates and taking instruction from Oaksterdam University, an Oakland, Calif.-based ”cannabis college” that reports New Yorkers as the second-largest state contingent (after California) among its student body.

“You can’t just submit an application that says, ‘Hey, I’ve been growing marijuana for the past 20 years where it’s been illegal,’” she explains.

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About Ed Zwirn

Ed Zwirn is a journalist/editorial professional with a focus on financial trends and practices. He lives out in the woods in Bethel, NY, not far from where the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival was held in 1969. As a financial writer, his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, CFO Magazine and news services including Dow Jones Newswires and Informa Global Markets. Ed also spent three years in Ukraine, where he ran an English-language news service. He now divides his time between his freelance journalism, song and poetry writing, and barbequing and lawn-mowing on his 2.5 acre property.