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Former Republican senator Al D’Amato's lobbying company, Park Strategies, holds lucrative contracts in the field. ALBANY—Lobbyists in New York State are anticipating a surge in business from the legalization of medical marijuana, as dozens of companies hire firms to help them vie for five available state licenses to manufacture the drug.
Companies still face huge hurdles in their fight to secure licenses.Manufacturers most likely to succeed must demonstrate they’ve thought out every detail of their production plan, from security, to support from local lawmakers, to plans for how they’ll transport the plants from manufacturers to dispensaries. Capitol View The Thread Listen Live Program Schedule Station Directory Audio Help About Minnesota Public Radio Contact Us Shop Become a Member Volunteer Fundraising Credentials Terms of use Your privacy rights Public Inspection Files Minnesota Public Radio ©2016. Estimates are that hundreds of firms may apply to become one of five manufacturers of the drug under the state’s new program, which was enacted this summer and is expected to be up and running by next January. The program will be small and tightly regulated, but lobbyists told Capital they don't expect that to be a deterrent to companies hoping to break into the market. In Minneapolis, construction is under way on the city's first dispensary — a standalone 100-year-old downtown building that once housed the League of Catholic Women.
And the monetary threshold applicants must clear to apply is low—anyone applying for a license has to pay just $10,000 in fees.
The state Department of Health has approved two manufacturers, LeafLine Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions, also known as MinnMed, to grow, process and sell medical cannabis in pill or oil form to Minnesotans starting July 1. Johns who represents the United Food & Commercial Workers union, said he has spoken with more than a dozen companies interested in procuring a medical marijuana license that are seeking his help in reaching agreements with labor unions. UFCW’s local affiliate is the 20,000-member Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Workers’ Union. Lobbying records show dozens of companies—some established cannabis growers and others new to the field—have already hired firms to represent them in their effort to grow marijuana in New York state.

MinnMed may locate dispensaries only in odd numbered Minnesota congressional districts and LeafLine Labs in the even numbered districts.
Some of the most lucrative contracts belong to Park Strategies, the lobbying firm run by former U.S. The people allowed to purchase medicinal cannabis must have one of the 10 medical conditions specified by the state. D’Amato, a Republican who for years opposed medical marijuana, came out in support of the drug for medicinal purposes in an op-ed published last February in the Long Island Herald. The medical cannabis company that includes members of the Bachman floral and garden store family, expects to open its first site in Eagan July 1. When traditional medicines fail to offer relief, why not give patients alternatives?”The op-ed came shortly after Park Strategies signed $15,000-a-month lobbying deals with two firms operated by Richard Yost, a businessman who is active in the recreational marijuana industry in Colorado and other states. Yost operates Ideal 420 Soil, which sells soil and other products to marijuana growers and which sponsored a series of concerts by the Colorado Symphony orchestra last summer featuring pot-friendly music. MinnMed, on the other hand, has all four sites lined up with target opening dates in July and August. The company will start remodeling a dispensary in a Rochester strip mall over the next few weeks.
The company expects to close on a property in Moorhead for its third site and likely will open the fourth either in Minnetonka or Eden Prairie by August. Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz, a veterinarian caught speeding and smoking pot by a state trooper on the New York State Thruway in 2012, told reporters in 2013 he intended to invest $10 million in marijuana. Steve Pigeon, the former Erie County Democratic chairman, Pedro Espada advisor and 2009 Senate coup interloper, for his help in the company’s quest to obtain a medical marijuana license, lobbying records show.

Distribution facilities also must be spread throughout the state to improve patient access. Starr, whose company was chosen in early December, said the compressed timeline forced the company to make location decisions based on relatively quick conversations with local officials, at least those willing to have the conversation in the first place. And Fioria Franco LLC, based in Clarence, signed a contract with Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese & Associates to research and analyze the Compassionate Care Act, and provide the company with information about which state agencies will regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana and how. Draves, the UFCW lobbyist, said companies are keen to get in on the ground floor of a nascent industry in New York. We know there’s going to be 20 dispensaries but beyond that how the industry is going to develop in New York is still really at the beginning stage,” Draves said. Because federal laws still prohibit transporting the drug across state lines, manufacturers in New York have an essentially captive audience for their products.“You have the unique ability to create an industry within your state,” Draves said. MDH Assistant Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala said the law requires manufacturers to have at least one distribution site open by July 2015 and the remaining three by July 2016. In this business "you add onto that this weird little dynamic" and things get even more complicated.

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