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Med Mar

April 30, 2015

“I’m in charge. It’s my call. I’m doing it my way. And if you don’t like it, too bad.”

This from Governor Cuomo. Again.

Gotta love him.  It really is his way, or no way.

It’s actually kind of refreshing in one sense – he’s determined and decisive. There’s no dithering, except when dithering is a decisive strategy – like with fracking.

At issue now – medical marijuana. Earlier this week, his office quietly issued the application for five medical marijuana franchises, each of which will be authorized to have one growing facility and four dispensaries.

By design, this is a very restrictive approach – just 20 retail sites statewide to serve perhaps two or three million New Yorkers who suffer from certain diseases covered by the med mar program.

Control. Cuomo wants it. That’s because he’s skeptical of the medical benefits. And it’s because he rightfully doesn’t want New York to be anything like “the Wild West,” a reference to the virtually unregulated recreational pot markets that exist in other states.

Cuomo’s solution is tight, tight regulation, and, some say, a rigged bidding process. This last part is the angry complaint of many in the sector. This complaint is, as yet, unsubstantiated, but what they are saying sounds suspicious.

In this regard, they note that application process requires an extraordinary amount of detail – everything from a description of production protocols to exacting schematics on facilities, plus local approvals.

Such requirements are standard in the industry – but not the turnaround period for the application. Most states give three months or six months; New York is giving just 30 days.

It’s said that most groups interested in making a bid for a med mar franchise were waiting for the application to come out before signing an agreement with a cultivator and processor.  Now they have to rush to do it.

It’s said that most groups were waiting to read the application before making a final decision on whether to bid. They say there were just too many unanswered questions to proceed. For example, everyone wanted to know about dispensary location requirements.

In a surprise to most, the application says that dispensaries cannot be located in contiguous regions. This means a grower has to spread out their dispensaries statewide.

Why is this significant? Well, whoever completes the application has to identify the exact locations for their dispensaries and show that they have local approvals for the facilities.

The disgruntled potential bidders are now saying: “Who can conclude real estate deals and get local town board approvals in 30 days?”

At this point, we were thinking that maybe this is just the usual bitching from business guys who have to deal with government, but an extra tidbit of info we received independently made us wonder.

Apparently some bidding groups – acting on inside information – staked out dispensary locations months ago and will have no problem in meeting all of the requirements on a 30-day deadline.

That doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem fair. In fact, if this really did happen, it seems quite unfair.

And yet, if the guy making the decisions doesn’t care what people are thinking and saying, then it is really is too bad.

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