New York City's first medical marijuana dispensary opened in Manhattan today at 212 East 14th Street, though it's unclear when it will actually start serving patients, as none had an appointment today. Thus far there are 150 doctors registered to provide patient certification in the state's medical marijuana program, and 51 patients have been certified, according to the Department of Health. There's no word yet on how many of those doctors or patients are in the New York City area.
A registry ID card is required to get past the entryway of Columbia Care, located just off Union Square, and spokespersons at the opening this morning could not speak to whether any patients have successfully made appointments.
The dispensary is cash-only and does not take insurance, as no plan currently covers medical marijuana. According to Columbia Care reps, patients will pay between $100-$300 in cash each time they pick up a new monthly prescription of tinctures, oil for vaporizing, or capsules. Smokable and edible forms of marijuana are prohibited under New York's law.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who attended the dispensary's ribbon cutting, said she hopes the state's dispensaries will eventually take insurance:
“I’ve known many people who have been ill with HIV/AIDS, and over the years, they have — illegally at the time — have used marijuana that they purchased illegally. It solved their pain problems. I saw it with my own eyes, with very, very close friends...[W]e all look forward to having more dispensaries in the state, and insurance, because people have to pay now. But this is a very good beginning."
There are security cameras in nearly every corner of the dispensary, as well as outside. The exterior security cameras are equipped with image-recognition and loudspeaker capabilities, meaning they can identify when someone standing outside the storefront is not an employee and ask them to stop loitering.
But conducting any sort of heist would be quite a feat: Columbia Care is comprised of a series of rooms, each of which requires the presentation of a registry ID card to enter, and the THC products are locked up in staff-only restricted areas (and were not on view during the opening today).
The dispensary is by appointment only, but will likely not be able to announce when it serves its first patient, due to privacy concerns. Columbia Care is currently the only medical marijuana dispensary in the city, but more are expected to open in Queens and the Bronx.