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Medical marijuana law signed, next step dispensaries
New York - New York is now the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana for certain medical purposes.
On Monday, Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act, allowing for 20 dispensaries to be opened around the state.
One dispensary is likely to be opened in Rochester.
"It will likely take over a year and a half to get this thing underway," said Dr. Bruce Bedrick. He operates a consulting and technology firm, which has helped to open dispensaries in several states.
Since it is not legal in all states, medical marijuana cannot be transported across state lines. The Compassionate Care act calls for it to be grown here, the products made and dispensed here.
In Colorado dispensaries, marijuana is grown under lights, harvested, dried and displayed in open jars, making dispensaries a one-stop shop.
New York has the most restrictive law in the nation, which will make dispensaries here look very different.
"They will look very similar to physician's offices - middle to upscale-very professional-looking dispensaries that are very securitized and safe," said Dr.Bedrick.
He offered photos and a video tape of a secure dispensary called Medbox, which is already in use in other states. It is software controlled and may also use fingerprint biometric technology to ensure a patient ID has not been stolen or being used by someone else.
Medbox sits behind a counter and is used by a pharmaceutical tech to dispense sealed packages of the drug.
"It will basically have the ratings system of a safe," he said. "It is the safest, most secure, most legally compliant way to store, inventory control, and dispense prescription medical marijuana."
Medical insurance will not cover purchases and transactions will likely be cash-only. That's because there is no federal law allowing for medical marijuana and since banks are federally licensed, using a check or credit card could create legal troubles.
New York has yet to choose the four companies that will operate the dispensaries, yet Dr.Bedrick's website advertises a future presence here. Asked about that he declined to offer specifics other than to say he is "absolutely" interested in being involved in NY's process.