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Medical Marijuana Facilities Could Open In NYC This Week

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Medical marijuana will soon be available at state-sanctioned locations in New York City – possibly as soon as this week.

As CBS2's Scott Rapoport reported, four dispensaries will be opening to dispense cannabis legally. But there are certain things they won't have.

"No joints, no cookies, no brownies -- nothing of that sort," said Ari Hoffnung of Vireo Health of New York.

The marijuana will be distributed in the form of capsules, liquid cannabis, and vaporizers -- using oil to replace rolled joints. That is the law, according to Hoffnung, whose company is preparing to open a business in Queens and in White Plains.

"People are not going to be served by bud-tenders like in Denver, Colorado, but by licensed pharmacists," Hoffnung said.

The first business in the city to open would be here on 14th Street and Third Avenue just east of Union Square -- possibly as early as Thursday. Its chief executive officer touted the benefits of the product.

"Medical marijuana has been shown to be more effective treating a myriad of illnesses in comparison to standard pharmaceuticals," said Nicholas Vita, CEO of Columbia Care.

The development has caught the attention of people in the area.

"Oh, we don't need that," one passerby said.

"There'll probably be lines around the block, don't you think?" another said.

Of the four medical marijuana businesses planned for New York City, two will be in Manhattan, one in Queens, and one in the Bronx.

Under the New York State law, medical marijuana is to be used to treat 10 serious diseases – including, but not limited to, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's, epilepsy, and some spinal cord injuries.

Interestingly, the business in Queens -- owned and operated by Hoffnung's Vireo Health, will be providing cannabis products that are kosher. They will be certified by the Orthodox Union and their rabbinic inspectors, Hoffnung said.

"No gelatin. We only use natural oils like coconut oils," Hoffnung said. "We are fully natural and kosher, and proud of it."

Executives from the medical marijuana dispensaries tell CBS2 they are expecting final approval to open "any day now."

The company that owns the dispensary slated for the Bronx changed locations after community members complained the area it was originally planned for was too secluded.

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