Treating marijuana the same as alcohol is impossible for several reasons. There are no measurements for marijuana impairment that relate across the board to how we understand alcohol impairment.

New York State Medical Marijuana Program Launches Today

As of Jan. 5, nearly 150 doctors statewide had registered for the program and can certify their patients, if clinically appropriate for their qualifying condition and consistent with the department's guidance and regulations.

New York State's medical marijuana program launches Jan. 7 as scheduled, the New York State Department of Health announced. This date is 18 months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act and two weeks after the department launched its online Medical Marijuana Patient Certification and Registration System. Qualified New York patients can enroll in the Medical Marijuana Program so they can buy medical marijuana when it becomes available this month; they must receive a DOH Medical Marijuana Program certification from a registered physician and then access the registration system to apply for a registry ID card. Information regarding registration is available at

As of Jan. 5, nearly 150 doctors statewide had registered for the program and can certify their patients, if clinically appropriate for their qualifying condition and consistent with the department's guidance and regulations. Medical marijuana will be available to certified patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, intractable spasticity caused by damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and Huntington's disease, according to the department.

"Governor Cuomo gave us an extremely ambitious timeline to get the Medical Marijuana Program up and running, and I am pleased that we have met his goals. Our program ensures the availability of pharmaceutical-grade medical marijuana products for certified patients and establishes strict regulatory controls to protect public health and safety," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

Patients with valid registry ID cards are eligible to buy medical marijuana from a dispensing location. The department chose five organizations on July 31, 2015, to grow marijuana and manufacture it into approved forms, and each of them operates a manufacturing facility and four dispensing facilities. As of Jan. 7, eight dispensing facilities are open for business in Onondaga, Erie, Albany, Ulster, and Westchester Counties and in Manhattan, and more will open later this month. Locations of the dispensing facilities can be found at

The department's announcement said DOH has asked each Registered Organization to develop a delivery option to ensure full access to patients who are unable to travel to a dispensary location due to their medical condition or if their designated caregivers cannot obtain it for them.

"Bloomfield Industries has been working collaboratively with the NYS Department of Health to get our medicine approved and our facilities up and running safely and successfully," said Colette Bellefleur, COO of Bloomfield Industries, one of the Registered Organizations. "The department has been extremely supportive and flexible and deserves a great deal of credit for getting the program operational so quickly. We look forward to delivering on the promise of the Compassionate Care Act for patients who are suffering throughout New York State."

"When you consider the Empire State's economic footprint in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and agriculture, no other state can match our expertise or is better positioned to assume a leadership role in the medical cannabis industry," echoed Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health of New York, another one. "We are excited about creating living wage jobs for New Yorkers of all educational backgrounds in our Upstate New York cultivation and lab facility and in our dispensaries throughout the state. And we are looking forward to serving patients in New York with our best-in-class cannabis-based medications and top-quality patient care."

The others approved thus far are Etain, LLC; PharmaCann, LLC; and Columbia Care.

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