Medical Marijuana Added to New York Assembly Budget Proposal
Democratic Assemblyman Dick Gottfried told Capital the measure would resemble his Compassionate Care Act, to bring an order to dispensing the drug for various maladies.
Still, there are some disparities between Gottfried's original proposal and this one, which is cosponsored by Independent Democrat Diana Savino in the State Senate.
The Assembly plan will stipulate that the excise tax on marijuana will be calculated according to a percentage of the dispensing price, not as a per-found cost. To boot, as part of the budget proposal, more dispensaries would also be able to expedite the process of getting into business.
"We're thrilled to see the Assembly put medical marijuana on the the table for the upcoming budget negotiations," said Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech (TRTC). "Clearly these are lawmakers who see the economic value this industry could provide. We feel this move puts us in a very strong position for passage this year, hopefully making New York the 21st state with a medical cannabis industry. We look forward to participating in that industry."
This measure of course is a large expansion of the limited medical marijuana program proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier in the year. It could be a boon for the various marijuana companies like GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) and Creative Edge Nutrition (FITX) trying to gain market share in the medical marijuana space through emphasis on pharmaceuticals and biotech.
"Medical marijuana being included in the Assembly's one house budget is a major step towards opening what may become the second largest medical cannabis industry in the nation," said Evan Nison, co-founder and director at New York Cannabis Alliance and executive director at NORML NJ. "We commend Assemblyman Gottfried and Speaker [Sheldon] Silver on taking this step."
But there are obstacles.
Though New York state Senate Republicans have chilled out their opposition to medical marijuana measures, majority co-leader Dean Skelos did relent in aversion to legalization: he said he would approve non-smoke-based forms of medical marijuana.
"Now we must make sure Senator Skelos and Governor Cuomo listen to the people of New York and agree to include this in the final version of the budget to allow experienced companies like ours to provide safe access to medical quality cannabis," Nison said.
--Written by Ross Kenneth Urken for MainStreet