Nearly six years since New York legalized medical marijuana, one of the Big Apple’s five boroughs still didn’t have its own dispensary—until now.

It’s simply called “Be,” it’s Staten Island’s first medical cannabis dispensary, and it is finally opening its doors to patients this month.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that legalized medical marijuana, back in the summer of 2014. So why did it take so long for one of the licensed dispensaries to plant its flag in Staten Island, the least populous of New York City’s boroughs? 

NY1 reports that, even after winning a license, Be “had a hard time securing a location near mass transit and being accessible for the 2,600 authorized medical marijuana patients in the borough who now must travel off-island to get their prescriptions filled,” and that the company also “faced questions from residents who feared marijuana from the dispensary could get into the wrong hands.” 

“The state has taken lots of requirements to make sure that that doesn’t happen. To come into a dispensary you have to be of age; you can’t come in here as a young person, you can’t be buying any product without being registered with the state,” said Be’s state medical officer, Dr, Jack D’Angelo, State Medical Officer, as quoted by NY1.

“It’s an industry now and a regulated industry is an industry that keeps the community safe,” added D’Angelo.

New York’s medical marijuana law offers the treatment for patients suffering from a  variety of qualifying conditions: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. PTSD was added to the list of qualifying conditions through a bill signed by Cuomo in 2017. The state does not permit medical cannabis to be prescribed in smokable form. 

Cuomo now has his sights set on legalizing recreational marijuana for adults in the state, a legislative goal he reiterated in his state of the state address in January.

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