New York's medical marijuana program sure has a lot of rules

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Eight in 10 New Yorkers support the use of marijuana to treat illnesses, but the state's medical marijuana program is shaping up to be one of the most restrictive in the nation.


The New York Times reports:

Only 10 conditions qualify for medical use of marijuana; the drug may not be smoked; and New York will initially allow only 20 dispensaries across the state, run by five organizations.

With New York's sizable population, the limitations will mean one dispensary per million residents. Even under the tight guidelines, estimates on how many will qualify range from thousands to hundreds of thousands, the Times reports.

The more than 100 pages of rules are filled with plenty of quirks that could turn into potential headaches for dispensary owners and patients. For instance, a plumber may need prior approval to service a dispensary for a clogged sink, and even something as seemingly innocuous as drinking a Coke on the premises could be banned, the Times reports.

Backers of medical pot hope the regulations will be refined before the program launches in 2016, but there's no guarantee, according to Gabriel Sayegh, the managing director for policy and campaigns at the Drug Policy Alliance. “We’re not holding our breath,” he told the Times.

Pizza and ice cream parlor allegedly served as a front for weed dealing

A concerned citizen started to get suspicious: Papa Dimitri's Classic Pizza and Ice Cream rarely seemed to be open and didn't have many customers. Also, the employees complained that the heat didn't work, something that shouldn't have been a problem if the ovens were running.


The tip led police in St. Paul, Minnesota, to what they say was an illicit marijuana dealing operation, the StarTribune reports. Police say 32-year-old Ryan D. Brooks, Sr. ran the business along with his 61-year-old mother and 82-year-old grandmother.

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Extra toppings, please (Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Brooks was in jail in 2008 and 2009, and an officer who encountered him at that time said he bragged about laundering money through a pizza business, according to a claim included in the charges.


"Brooks said he utilized pizza boxes and bags to deliver marijuana under the guise of making pizza deliveries," the charges said.

Colorado fights back against marijuana lawsuit

Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing Colorado over its legal weed law, claiming the drug flows easily across borders and into their states.


The Colorado Attorney General's Office wants the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the case, and filed a brief on Friday that says blocking Colorado's regulated marijuana market would be a "dangerous" move, The Huffington Post reported.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman writes in the brief that Nebraska and Oklahoma acknowledge Colorado has the right to legalize marijuana, but still want to take away the power to regulate and tax sales.


"The Plaintiff States seek to strike down the laws and regulations that are designed to channel demand away from this black market and into a licensed and closely monitored retail system," she writes.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.