Status of New York Medical Marijuana Program

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In July 2014, New York State enacted the Compassionate Care Act to make marijuana accessible to patients with debilitating conditions. Like most other states, New York has assigned the Department of Health the responsibility of forming the rules and regulations that will guide the program for patients, businesses and law enforcement. The process can seem like it’s painstakingly slow in the mean time. It typically can take between one and two years before the first dispensaries actually open up to serve customers, but there is a bit of information we know in the mean time.

What We Already Know for New York Marijuana Patients:

The initial list of health conditions that qualify a patient for the registry has been established, but may be expanded upon. The initial list includes most of the typical conditions that other states cover like Cancer, ALS, epilepsy, severe pain, chronic pain, nausea, tremors, and others. Thus far, it does not cover any mental health conditions like PTSD.

Patients will need to apply for a registry card and medical practitioners must certify that the patient has the condition and that they may benefit from the use of medical marijuana. The process will also be similar to the New Jersey program, which no one is raving about, which requires practitioners to suggest a dosage and in this case, up to a 30 day dosage. Only doctors that have completed the Department of Health course on medical marijuana training can do the certifications. The registry is yet to open, but typically opens well before dispensary openings.

Recently, the Acting Commissioner of Health requested an exception so that the state could import CBD from other states so certain patients could have access to the product. That letter was sent on September 26th, 2014 and an official update has not been provided.

The New York Program also calls for the consumption of marijuana through food, oils, pills and vapors as a conscious effort to avoid smoking cannabis. Smoking cannabis is not covered or protected by the Act.

What we already know for New York Dispensaries:

Up to only 20 dispensaries will be allowed during the initial launch of the New York Medical Marijuana Program. They are to be geographically dispersed to reach the New York patients. New York allows for for-profit and non-profit businesses to apply for dispensary licenses. Twenty dispensaries seems like a pretty slim amount compared to the large geographic size of the state.

What we already know about marijuana possession:

Patients may possess up to a 30-day supply of medical marijuana. That amount has not yet been determined and in other states we have seen it range from 2 ounces to 24 ounces. We’re going to assume New York will likely be on the lower end of that range.

Other changes outside of the official Medical Marijuana Program in New York have taken place at the city level. For example, as of November 19th, New York City relaxed its policies on small amounts of marijuana possession. Anyone possessing less than 25 grams is now issued a summons rather than being arrested as long as there is not an outstanding warrant nor did the possession occur in a location of concern like a school.

All in all, having a medical marijuana program is a good start. The New York Program, in the opinions of many cannabis activists is very paired down. We at AllBud hope that the New York Medical Marijuana Program will grow and progress well despite its conservative launch approach.

Best of Luck New York!