Medical Weed Boom In NY: Lobbyists Rally In Preparation

January 8, 2015 | Rhett Jones

It seems that the economic benefits legal weed has always promised are already coming for one industry: lobbyists. According to Capital, one insider is calling the coming medical weed industry in New York the “Lobbyist Employment Act of 2015.” That’s because hundreds of manufacturers are expected to compete for just five licenses to manufacture the medicinal ganja that patients are expected to have access to as early as next January. When you throw in the fact that it only costs $10,000 to apply for the lucrative license, that leaves a lot of potential money to be used for greasing the wheels of power.

Capital explains some of the expected hurdles:

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.

Applicants will also have to educate local lawmakers and residents in areas of the state that might harbor bias against having a marijuana manufacturer in their community.

“This is not just a traditional lobbying approach. Teams are going to have to be put together,” [Patrick] McCarthy [a lobbyist for Mercury Public Affairs]  said. “You really have to know what part of the state is potentially going to be more receptive. You have to know local politics.”

One man who knows local politics, former Senator Al D’Amato, now runs the lobbying firm Park Strategies. D’Amato’s firm holds some of the more lucrative lobbying contracts for the weed industry. Though Mr. D’Amato previously opposed medical weed, something happened in the last five years that caused him to have a change of heart. He even wrote an op-ed for the Long Island Herald in support of the industry. That soul-searching think piece 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.”

While there is only a plan in place for 20 dispensaries to be served by the five license holders, people in the industry are anticipating further growth and want to be on the ground floor. Ed Draves, a lobbyist at Bolton St. Johns tells Capital, “Medical marijuana, what you’re really developing is a brand new pharmaceutical industry in your state. And that’s pretty exciting.” And lucrative.

(Photo: Prensa 420)