Last Friday, the state Department of Health (DOH) announced the selection of five companies to manufacturer and dispense medical marijuana in different regions of the state. The organizations, which include both for- and nonprofit businesses, will each have one manufacturing facility and four dispensaries.

In 2015, state lawmakers approved a bill to establish a limited medical marijuana program in the state that will be highly regulated and restricted to patients with terminal illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDs and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The program is due to be operational by January 2016.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said:

“Today’s announcement represents a major milestone in the implementation of New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program and keeps us on track to have the program up and running within 18 months of passage of the Compassionate Care Act. I am proud that we are on course to provide certified patients with access to medical marijuana more quickly than any other state in the nation”