SUNSET PARK — A Colorado-based medicinal marijuana company's plan to open a dispensary in Sunset Park received full support from a Community Board 7 committee Wednesday night.
The state has some of the country's tightest rules when it comes to selling cannabis for medicinal uses, ensuring a high level of scrutiny from regulators, according to Erik Williams, director of government and public affairs for Mindful Medical.
It also requires tight security at the dispensary, including high-definition cameras and guards during operating hours.
"There's not a bank or jewelry store in any of the five boroughs that's going to have as tight a security as we're going to have in our facility," Williams said during a presentation at CB7's health and mental health committee meeting Wednesday. No members present at the meeting spoke in opposition to the plan.
Mindful Medical asked the committee to formally support the proposal, which the committee did unanimously. However, CB7's approval is not officially required.
State health officials are expected to announce the companies chosen to run medical cannabis dispensaries in New York as early as this week, according to reports. Mindful is one of 43 applications for the licenses, which would allow them to run four dispensaries and one growth farm.
It's possible that there will be further steps in the approval process that the Mindful team would be made aware of once state officials make a decision, the company said.
Mindful hopes to open locations in Sunset Park, Binghampton, Buffalo and Yonkers, with a growing facility in Georgetown, N.Y.
"This is going to be a destination," Williams said.
An Apple store-inspired marijuana shop is also being planned by a different company in Downtown Brooklyn.
Mark Justh, Mindful's New York CEO, is a Park Slope resident and the former head of artisinal butcher Fleisher's Meats. The company's corporate offices will also work from the Sunset Park building, Justh said.
According to state regulations, dispensaries must sit a minimum of 1,000 feet away from any school, park, religious institution or federal facility, according to Williams.
Patients with certain diseases, including cancer and AIDS, must receive a recommendation from physicians for medical marijuana before receiving a state identification card that can be used at dispensaries, the company said.
Facilities then sell patients one-month supplies of cannabis in the form of oils or capsules that are tracked digitally to prevent customers from picking up the drug at another location, Williams added.
The dispensary will also have several pharmacy techs and pharmacists who will handle the product and consult with the patient should they have any questions or concerns, he said.
Because the cannabis is processed into oils and pills, there will not be a discernable smell in the area.
"It's not just a, 'Come in, pick something off the shelf, and off you go,'" said Meg Sanders, CEO of Mindful in Colorado.
If they are awarded the license, state officials would like them to begin operating by January 1, 2016, Williams said.
Mindful promised the committee it would hire locally and provide hands-on training at its facility in Colorado. While the company plans to renovate the Sunset Park space, the build-out will take place gradually as the customer base grows.
"We'll fill the need however we can," Sanders said, "but that location can service quite a few patients."