New York Medical Marijuana

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What is Medical Marijuana in New York?

New York's Compassionate Care Act allows qualified patients to purchase, possess and use medical cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Experts have proven that medical marijuana can provide palliative relief for patients with debilitating health conditions like multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, or epilepsy. The Center for Medical Cannabis Research claims that the active compounds in cannabis - Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) benefit human health.

The New York State Department of Health is in charge of registering eligible patients and giving them medical marijuana cards. The Department handles this responsibility through its Medical Marijuana Program. To prove their eligibility, patients must visit a state-approved physician, certifying that they would gain palliative benefit from using medical cannabis.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in New York?

Yes. Medicinal marijuana was legalized in New York in 2014 under the Compassionate Care Act (CCA). The Act permitted the possession, use, delivery, and administration of medicinal marijuana by qualified patients and designated caregivers. The regulatory authority over the New York medical marijuana program (MMP) is the New York Department of Health, while the program is overseen by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). As of June 1, 2022, New York has 124,352 patients registered under its medical cannabis program.

Note that upon the appointment of the membership of the Cannabis Control Board, the CCA will be repealed from the New York Public Health Law. Subsequently, Article 3 of the new cannabis law will govern the medical use of cannabis in New York.

Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in New York?

Medical marijuana in New York is available to legal residents of the state who suffer from one or more qualifying conditions approved for medical marijuana therapy in the state. These conditions include:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • AIDS
  • HIV
  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Spinal cord injury with spasticity
  • Neuropathy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Huntington's disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Dystonia
  • Autism
  • Chronic pain degrading health and functional capability
  • Any other condition permitted by a qualified healthcare practitioner

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana in New York?

Registered medical marijuana patients aged 21 or older may grow marijuana at home for medical use. Designated caregivers over the age of 21, registered under the medical cannabis program and designated by qualified patients younger than 21 who have cognitive or physical impairments preventing them from growing marijuana, may also grow marijuana for use by their patients. New York permits registered patients under the age of 21 who are unable to grow marijuana on their own to designate one of their caregivers to grow marijuana on their behalf.

According to the Cannabis Control Board regulations, a qualified patient may grow up to three mature and three immature marijuana plants. No more than six mature plants and six immature plants may be grown on or within the grounds of any private residence, regardless of the number of adults living in the household. The regulations prohibit medical marijuana patients from having more than one caregiver growing marijuana on their behalf. If more than one patient has designated an individual as a caregiver, the caregiver may grow one additional plant for each patient above the stipulated limit.

The CCB regulations require marijuana plants to be kept in secure locations and stipulate that growers use protective measures such that neither marijuana plants nor their products are accessible or visible to persons under the age of 21. Hence, cultivation must be conducted in enclosed areas not visible from public areas. Reasonable measures must also be taken to mitigate the odor of cannabis.

Note that the provisions outlined above will only become effective once regulations and changes to the administrative structure of the Department of the Health have been developed. Per the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), the medical marijuana program is expected to transition from the New York Department of Health to the Office of Cannabis Management no later than six months after the Cannabis Control Board is appointed. For updates on the CCB appointment and transitioning process, check the New York medical marijuana program website.

Do You Need to See a Doctor to Get Medical Marijuana in New York?

Yes. New York requires persons seeking medical marijuana cards to obtain medical marijuana certifications from qualified healthcare providers in the state. To qualify to issue medical cannabis certification in New York, a healthcare provider must be registered and licensed by New York State to prescribe controlled substances to humans. Such healthcare providers may be physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, podiatrists, dentists, and midwives. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) maintains a list of consenting medical cannabis program practitioners on its website. Patients can find healthcare practitioners qualified to issue medical cannabis certifications by county on the list. Telemedicine healthcare providers are also available on the list.

Note that the list does not include all certifying healthcare practitioners in New York State. Only the practitioners who have consented to be listed publicly are contained in the NYSDOH list. The NYSDOH also allows healthcare practitioners to opt in and opt out of being listed publicly.

Can a Minor Get a Medical Marijuana Card in New York?

Yes. In New York State, a person under the age of 18 can obtain a medical marijuana card through a designated caregiver. However, before designating an individual as a caregiver, the patient must obtain medical cannabis certification from a qualified healthcare practitioner attesting that they suffer from one of the qualifying medical conditions in New York.

For a minor to obtain a medical marijuana card in New York, the application for the card must be submitted by a designated caregiver who must be aged 21 or older. The caregiver may be a parent or legal guardian of the certified patient, an individual designated by the parent or guardian of the certified patient, an OCM-approved representative, or an employee of a designated caregiver facility, including a cannabis research licensee. Note that for the OCM (Office of Cannabis Management) to approve an individual as the legal representative of a minor patient, the individual must provide sufficient evidence that no parent or legal guardian is appropriate or available.

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in New York

To be eligible to obtain a medical marijuana card in New York, you must be aged 18 or older and reside in New York State. After obtaining a medical cannabis certification from a qualified physician, you must register with the Medical Cannabis program through the OCM's online patient registration system. During your registration, the following will be required:

  • Proof of residency, such as:
  • New York State-issued driver's license or any other New York government-issued ID card
  • Copy of utility bill showing New York State residency and issued within the past two months
  • Copy of a current lease or similar document showing New York State residency
  • Proof of eligibility for medical marijuana. The medical cannabis certification obtained from the attending healthcare practitioner suffices

Following the approval of an application, the Department of Health will issue you a temporary registration identification card, which may be used with a New York State-issued photo ID card to purchase medical marijuana from approved dispensaries until the permanent medical marijuana card arrives in the mail. The temporary registration identification card is only valid for 30 days. The permanent card may take 7 - 10 business days to arrive in the mail.

Does New York Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Designate Caregivers?

Yes. The New York medical cannabis program permits certified patients to designate caregivers to help them access medical marijuana. Caregivers are individuals who have agreed, and have been designated by minors or incapacitated adults, to help obtain and administer medical-grade marijuana on their behalf. The state does not assign caregivers to certified patients in New York. It is the responsibility of patients to find and designate medical marijuana caregivers to administer marijuana on their behalf.

A certified medical marijuana patient may designate up to five caregivers in New York. Designated caregivers may be added during the patient registration process or after the patient registration has been completed. In order to be designated as a caregiver, an individual must:

  • Be aged 21 or older, except where express permission has been obtained from the Department of Health
  • Reside in New York State and possess a valid state-issued driver's license or other state-issued identification cards
  • Not be the patient's certifying physician
  • Have agreed to be designated by the patient within the medical marijuana data management system as a caregiver
  • Have upon designation as a caregiver by the patient, completed application on the New York State medical marijuana data management system

Caregivers are required to register for their own medical marijuana cards. Background checks will be required before their applications are approved.

What Is the Cost of a California Medical Marijuana Card?

New York State charges $50 for a medical marijuana card until recently. Currently, the fee has been waived and qualified patients and caregivers can obtain medical marijuana identification cards without paying a fee. Note that while a medical marijuana card costs nothing, the patient will be required to pay a consultation fee when visiting their physician to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation. Depending on the patient's location in New York, the consultation fee ranges between $100 and $300.

What Do You Need When Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in New York?

Certified medical marijuana patients must take their medical marijuana cards and their medical marijuana certifications to approved dispensing facilities in order to purchase medical marijuana products. Designated caregivers are required to take their caregiver cards and the patients' certifications to dispensing facilities in order to make purchases.

How to Renew Your New York Medical Marijuana Card

Typically, when it is time to renew your medical marijuana card, you will get a notification from the Office of Cannabis Management stating that your registration is due for a renewal evaluation. It is recommended that you begin the renewal process before your card expires to avoid a lapse in coverage because the renewal process takes time to complete.

A New York medical marijuana card is valid for one year. The medical cannabis recommendation from the healthcare practitioner is also valid for one year. A medical marijuana card cannot be renewed until the recommendation from the physician has been renewed. Hence, without an active medical cannabis certification, a medical marijuana card is invalid. A physician can extend a medical cannabis certification through the New York State Medical Cannabis Data Management System.

Note that if you have a caregiver, they cannot renew their registration until you have renewed your medical marijuana card. The renewal process can be completed on the OCM's online patient registration system. To initiate the process, enter your registration number and follow the prompts. For further inquiries on renewing a New York medical marijuana card, contact the Medical Cannabis Program by emailing medical@ocm.ny.gov or calling (888) 626-5151.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Cannabis in New York?

A person overdoses on cannabis when they consume more than their body's ability to process. Typically, overdosing on a drug can lead to terrible repercussions, from vomiting and diarrhea to brain damage and death. Different individuals require different amounts of cannabis to overdose. The symptoms of a cannabis overdose are often similar to the effects of a regular dose but at extreme levels. Some signs of a marijuana overdose include:

  • Racing heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

While a patient is unlikely to die from a marijuana overdose, there are still situational risks to consider. A marijuana overdose presents the chances of health complications when the using patient has underlying medical issues. Similarly, mixing other drugs like alcohol could exacerbate the effects of a marijuana overdose. The effects of a marijuana overdose extend to other people, as a driver could cause an accident if they overdosed on cannabis.

If I am Pregnant, Can I Use Cannabis to Relieve Nausea in New York?

Nausea is one of the symptoms women experience during pregnancy. Also known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), women that experience this condition get intensely ill in their stomachs and vomit a lot. Dealing with nausea typically causes appetite loss and weight loss. For a pregnant woman in her first or second trimester, this can be dangerous.

Many people use cannabis to relieve nausea symptoms and find it to be effective. Some pregnant women also use cannabis for relief. However, medical research has shown that cannabis use during pregnancy puts fetuses at risk of long-term neurodevelopmental problems. The possible hazards include:

  • Smaller infant size at birth
  • Higher chances of stillbirth
  • Higher chance of premature birth;
  • Secondhand marijuana smoke dangers;
  • Attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems in childhood.

Cannabis use during pregnancy is hazardous not only to the child but to the mother as well. Pregnant mothers consuming cannabis take the risk of:

  • Dizziness and the risk of falling;
  • Impaired judgment and the risk of injury;
  • Lower levels of oxygen in the body - causing breathing problems;
  • Lung damage (if the patient is smoking).
New York Medical Marijuana