Despite a full scale push and an investment said to have been around $1 million, Lewiston Greenhouse LLC, a subsidiary of Modern Disposal, lost out in its’ bid to become one of the five companies in New York State to be licensed to cultivate and market medical marijuana here.
With the exception of a Rochester area company, the winners were all located in the Albany – New York City area.
Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the “Compassionate Care Act” in July of last year, the law that governs the sale and distribution of medical marijuana is one of the most restrictive in the country. Only cannabis oil is permitted under the act, and just five growers will be permitted for the entire state.
Financial analysts specializing in the medical marijuana industry have charged that, under the strict regulations imposed by Cuomo, the effort is virtually guaranteed to fail before it even gets off the ground.
“We believe it’s going to be an extremely limited market,” said Eddie Miller, founder and CEO of New York City-based Invest In Cannabis, a firm with 24 national companies on its portfolio. “The economic opportunity here, from our standpoint, is pretty small because of the marketplace, and the amount of customers that actually have the potential to enter the market.”
New York has a long history of highly restrictive drug regulations, dating back to the infamous “Rockefeller Laws” of the 1970s.
Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medical marijuana. Unlike the majority of the states, New York has only authorized cannabis oil use for generally life threatening and painful illnesses, while the laws of other states permit all forms of marijuana for the treatment of comparatively common maladies such as anxiety, depression and insomnia.
In Washington State, $70 million in tax revenue is realized annually for the sale of legal pot. In Colorado, the figure is $53 million a year. In sunny California, state officials project a take of $105.4 this year.
Lewiston Greenhouse licensed a strain of cannabis known as Charlotte’s Web, which was especially engineered to eliminate the intoxicating qualities of the herb. It was developed by the Stanley brothers of Colorado, and was found to be especially effective in treating various forms of epilepsy often suffered by children. The brothers partnered with Lewiston Greenhouse to market oil derived from the strain in New York.
But as so often happens, downstate and capitol district interests got the green light, leaving the Niagara Frontier in the dust.
A close ally of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Cuomo has never fully explained his virulent opposition to the use of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Given his coming of age in the early 1970s, he’s 57 years of age, the governor’s antipathy toward the herb seems curious indeed.
One wonders if Mayor Dyster has the same antipathy toward the green growing herb himself.