The state Department of Health has pushed back a deadline to apply for a license to grow and distribute medical marijuana.
The new deadline for businesses seeking one of five licenses statewide is now June 5, according to a notice posted Friday to the health department’s website. It had previously been May 29.
The state said the delay is the result of a high number of questions about the application process and is pushing back the deadline to provide answers.
The state expects to award five contracts to private marijuana growers, who will each be permitted to open up to four dispensaries and distribute the drug to patients in New York certified by their doctors. It’s estimated to take about nine months to grow the marijuana.
“Due to the number of questions received, the department has extended the date upon which it will post answers to May 21, 2015. The department is also extending the deadline for submission of applications,” the Department of Health’s notice reads.
“Applications for Registration as a Registered Organization must be received by the department on or before June 5, 2015. The deadline for issuing registrations has not changed.”
The state opened up the application process last month for its new medical marijuana program, which is required by law to launch by January. Each license holder will be permitted to grow the drug and set up four outlets to dispense it to patients with serious illnesses or conditions.
Advocates have been pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to speed up the process for chronically ill patients, including children with severe forms of epilepsy.
The state expects to register the companies selected by July.
After the law was approved a year ago, it started an 18-month clock for the health department have the program underway. The new law will only allow the drug in non-smokeable forms, such as pills, oils and vapors.
Applicants are required to pay a $10,000 non-refundable application fee in addition to a $200,000 registration fee, the health department said. The $200,000 registration fee will be refunded to the entities not selected.