The department said Thursday it expects to issue five additional licenses during the first half of this year and phase in the entrance of the new growers over two years. It was a little bit like a kick in the stomach, said Jeremy Unruh, general counsel for PharmaCann LLC, one of the five growers already licensed to operate in the state. We already cant survive as the market stands today. Unruh and other growers said they are mulling legal action to block the state from adding new growers. Gov. Cuomo signs the medical marijuana law in 2014. Launched just over a year ago, New York’s medical pot program has been slow to marijuana attract patients. Image by: Susan Watts/New York Daily News This misguided attempt to expand the marijuana program could end up killing the program and leaving thousands of patients without access to life-sustaining medicine,” said one industry owner who declined to be identified. The Health Department, in a statement, said ensuring patients are able to get the relief they need is our top priority and promised a smooth integration of the new growers. While it is unsurprising that any business might oppose more competition in the market, additional registered organizations will improve patient access to the program throughout New York State, and patients will also benefit from a broader range of available medical marijuana products, the department said. Launched just over a year ago, New York’s medical pot program has been slow to attract patients. As of this week, just 14,045 patients had completed the cumbersome process to obtain state certification to receive the drug.