For the first time, some New York patients with debilitating illnesses will now be able to buy medical marijuana in Plattsburgh.

Columbia Care opened its doors on Route 3 Tuesday.

“We expect a fairly methodical rollout,” said Columbia Care CEO Nick Vita.

Vita says medical marijuana helped a sick loved one when standard care wasn’t enough.

That inspired him to cofound the company that has 20 locations across the country and three others now in New York (in Rochester, New York City and Long Island).

“We exist to serve a very particular patient population that’s gone through a very specific approval and selection process,” said Vita.

In 2014, the state passed the Compassionate Care Act which permitted medical marijuana use for people with debilitating diseases, including cancer, AIDS and epilepsy.

The patient must get a recommendation from his or her doctor and then approval from the state.

At Columbia Care’s Plattsburgh location, liquid tinctures are for sale. The drug is delivered under the tongue.

“We will be rolling out a vaporized cartridge product that can be inhaled and we also will be rolling out capsules very soon,” said CEO Nick Vita.

Liquids, oils and capsules are allowed in New York. Marijuana that you smoke or eat is not.

The marijuana for Columbia Care’s stores is grown across the state in Rochester.

Vita says appointments are slim in Plattsburgh right now.

He’s seen that before though. When he opened a dispensary in Washington D.C., he says there were no appointments for a month.

The dispensary now serves several thousand patients every week.

“Patients have never really had access to this before because physicians have never had access to this before,” he said. “A lot of conversation needs to happen, a lot of education needs to happen, a lot of transparency needs to be reinforced.”

Plattsburgh’s Police Chief says the department will patrol the business just like it does other businesses.

The security system in place at Columbia Care, he says, has exceeded his expectations.

“It is probably more secure than a bank,” said Plattsburgh Chief Desmond Racicot.

Chief Racicot thinks the dispensary’s security is top notch. The system includes pass-activated doors and several security cameras.

He says he isn’t worried that selling marijuana in stores, will affect crime on the streets.

“Our job in law enforcement is about crimes. This is not a crime. This is medical,” said Chief Racicot.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie did not wish to comment on this issue at this time.

Last summer, New York state awarded five medical marijuana licenses.
With each license, that company can open four dispensaries each.

To learn more about Columbia Care, visit:

To learn more about New York’s medical marijuana program, visit: