The state today selected five firms to grow and sell medical marijuana. One of the companies will grow its marijuana in Queens, and four of them will open dispensaries here in the city. NY1’s Bobby Cuza filed this report.

One building next to the Queens Center Mall houses a men’s clothing store and an AT&T support center. Soon they’ll be joined by a new tenant: Empire State Health Solutions, which will be setting up shop dispensing marijuana for medical use.

“It’s a tremendous milestone,” says state Senator Diane Savino.

Savino was a sponsor and leading advocate of the bill signed into law last summer making New York one of 23 states to legalize medical marijuana.

Forty-three industry groups applied for licenses to grow and distribute marijuana, and Friday the state picked five of them: Bloomfield Industries, Columbia Care New York, Empire State Health Solutions, Etain and PharmaCann.

Each organization will open one growing facility and four dispensaries.

In the city, four dispensaries are planned, with three already identified:

  •  In Manhattan, on 14th Street near Union Square.
  •  In the Bronx, on Oak Point Avenue in Hunts Point.
  •  In Queens, at the Center Mall.

The location of a second dispensary in Manhattan, and a growing facility in Queens have not yet been publicly identified. All the facilities are to open within six months.

“We set a very aggressive timeline. And I know for those who are waiting, it can seem like this is going on and on and on. But you know, New York state established an 18-month time frame, which is a full seven months earlier than the average in any other state,” said Savino.

Under the law, the marijuana can’t be smoked, so companies will have to create other products, like pills or oils. Collette Bellefleur is chief operating officer of Bloomfield, the company which will grow its marijuana in Queens.

“We’re going to be providing a spray, and one or two variations on a pill form – either a gel capsule or compressed tablet, and a vaporized oil as well,” Belfour says.

Some critics have called the state’s process too restrictive. The state will conduct lab testing of the products and set prices, and no advertising can run without state approval. For New Yorkers needing medical marijuana, though, help is on the way.

The Winners:

Bloomfield Industries Inc.

  • Manufacturing site: Queens
  • Dispensaries in NYC, Nassau, Onondaga, Erie counties

Columbia Care NY LLC

  • Manufacturing site: Monroe County
  • Dispensaries in NYC, Suffolk, Clinton, Monroe counties

Empire State Health Solutions

  • Manufacturing site: Fulton County
  • Dispensaries in Broome, Albany, Westchester, Queens counties

Etain, LLC

  • Manufacturing site: Warren County
  • Dispensaries in Albany, Ulster, Westchester, Onondaga counties

PharmaCann LLC

  • Manufacturing site: Orange County
  • Dispensaries in Erie, Onondaga, Albany, Bronx counties