New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program
Back in 2014, New York Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law the Compassionate Care Act which created legal protections for medical marijuana patients and caregivers and provided for a statewide regulatory system to license companies to cultivate and sell medical marijuana.
Under the law, in order to obtain a medical marijuana card, patients must have at least one of the qualifying medical conditions listed under the program and get approval from a state-certified physician.
Once a patient has been examined, the physician will determine the “dosage” patients should be using to treat their condition and may then specify a 30-day supply of medicine. This essentially limits the amount of marijuana-derived products that the patient may legally possess.
Once a patient has been approved for a medical marijuana card, the prescribing physician must report all patient information related to certification to the New York State Department of Health. In order for a patient to continue to enjoy ongoing legal access to their medicine, they must maintain an ongoing relationship with their physician.
Originally, medical conditions which qualified residents for a medical marijuana card included ALS, cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s Disease, IBD, MS, Parkinson’s Disease and others. Within the past few years, however, the state has added chronic pain and PTSD to the list as well as allowing the use of medical marijuana as a substitute for opioid prescriptions.
In order for a doctor to approve a patient with one or more of the above conditions they must display any of the following symptoms:
- Cachexia / Wasting Syndrome
- Opioid Use Disorder
- Severe or Chronic Pain
- Severe Nausea
- Severe or Persistent Muscle Spasms
Additional qualifying conditions are being considered and added to the program on an ongoing basis. One of the changes the New York Department Of Health is considering is to give practitioners more discretion in determining whether or not a patient can benefit from the use of medical marijuana. Furthermore, the DOH wants to increase the number of practitioners available to certify patients.
State lawmakers are carefully considering complete legalization of marijuana which would make it legal for anyone 21 and older to purchase CBD oil containing THC.
One word of warning, however. Consuming cannabis oils which contain THC puts the user at risk of failing a drug test or a roadside sobriety test and could result in loss of employment, suspension of driver’s licenses, hefty fines, and possibly even jail time.