In 2014, New York became the 23rd state to join the ranks of states that approve medical marijuana use as Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York's Compassionate Care Act despite his personal reservations to cannabis.

Beginning as a strict policy, the state has since expanded access to patients through additional qualifying conditions and improved practitioner sign-ups. Expansion could include the addition of an adult-use market soon enough. With Massachusetts legalizing sales and New Jersey rumored to do the same, New York stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars as citizens purchase cannabis across state lines. Signaling his latest shift towards marijuana, Gov. Cuomo approved a recreational sales study in January 2018.

Possession

Under the Compassionate Care Act, registered patients are legally allowed to possess a 30-day supply at any given time. The quantity of a patient’s 30-day supply is based on the recommendations received from their licensed physician.

Purchasing Limits

Dispensaries cannot provide a patient with more than a 30-day supply. Additionally, New York maintains certain limitations surrounding the types of products sold within state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

The following products are legally allowed to be sold in medical marijuana dispensaries:

  • Metered liquid or oil preparations (tinctures, sublingually administered products, vape pens)
  • Solid and semisolid preparations (capsules, tablets, lozenges)
  • Non-smokable forms of ground cannabis plant matter for oral administration
  • Topicals such as transdermal patches, lotions and ointments

When purchasing cannabis, the patient's recommendation must include:

  • The authorized brand and form of marijuana
  • Consumption method
  • and any other limitations required

Dosage amounts are not required, though a patient cannot legally obtain more than a 30-day supply.

Qualifying Patients

State regulations specify that patients must have one of the following conditions:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Any condition for which an opioid could be prescribed
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Huntington's disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Neuropathy
  • Opioid Use Disorder (only if enrolled in a certified treatment program)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Positive status for HIV or AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Additionally, a patient needs to have one of the following associated or complicating conditions:

  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Seizures
  • Severe or chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe or persistent muscle spasms.

The state encourages potential applicants to check back if their condition is not included. New York has added qualifying conditions throughout the years, with the most recent addition, opioid use disorder, occurring on July 12, 2018.

Caregiver

New York State medical marijuana patients are permitted to designate up to two caregivers at any time. Caregivers can provide aid to up to five patients at a time and must be New York residents with a valid, state-issued driver's license or non-driver ID. Caregiver applications must be submitted by someone 21 years or older.

Consumption

Patients can consume their medical marijuana through several routes of administration:

  • Vape Pens
  • Tinctures or other sublingually administered products
  • Capsules, tablets, lozenges
  • Topicals such as transdermal patches, lotions and ointments

Both smoking cannabis and marijuana products incorporated into edible food products are not approved routes of administration in New York.

Patients cannot consume through vaporization in public places. No consumption can occur on any grounds that prohibit smoking. The state cites the following examples:

  • Job sites
  • Bars Food service establishments
  • Enclosed indoor public areas
  • Public mass transit vehicles
  • Boarding areas
  • Youth centers
  • Detention centers
  • Child care services
  • Group homes
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Colleges and universities
  • General hospitals
  • Commercial establishments
  • Indoor arenas
  • Zoos

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence laws extends to marijuana. Patients should not operate any vehicles or large machinery while under the influence of medical marijuana. Steep punishments similar to those of alcohol DUIs may occur if a patient is found in violation of the law.

Reciprocity

New York only recognizes in-state cardholders and does not offer reciprocity to out-of-state cardholders at this time.

Transporting Marijuana

New York does not allow for medical marijuana products to be brought outside of the state.

Cultivation

Home cultivation is not allowed under current laws. Only businesses with approved licenses can grow medical marijuana in New York State.

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