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Medical marijuana became legal in the state of New York in mid-2014, though it took another 18 months for it to become available to patients. Many were surprised with the restrictions and the seemingly harsh limitations of the Compassionate Care Act. The conservative Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to please advocates and opponents of medical cannabis by making an accessible yet restrictive law.
One of the major contentions was the non-smoking aspect, which means medical marijuana in New York can only be consumed via vaporization, ingestion or in capsule form. Another limiting factor of the Compassionate Care Act was the number of places legalized to dispense the drug, which totals no more than 20 statewide.
Currently, there are 19 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in New York, with recent changes to the Compassionate Care Act suggesting that this number will increase over the coming years. In order to sustain more medical marijuana dispensaries, however, Cuomo will also need to implement some relaxations on qualifying conditions. But that’s a discussion for another time.
If you’re a New York patient in need of medical cannabis right now, then here’s a handy rundown of the top four places to pick up your medical marijuana prescription.
Etain Health is one of only five licensed manufacturers of medical marijuana in New York and continues its family-run ethic throughout its statewide medical marijuana dispensaries. Owned and operated by the woman-led Peckham family, Etain Health was founded after the Peckham matriarch was diagnosed with ALS, leading the family on the path to compassionate care. Etain Health operates four medical marijuana dispensaries — one in Albany, one in Kingston, one in Syracuse and one in Yonkers — and is committed to improving the quality of life for patients across New York with high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade marijuana.
Another big hitter in the dispensary field, Columbia Care New York operates four medical marijuana dispensaries statewide. They can be found in New York City, Riverhead, Plattsburgh and Rochester. In April, after wading through a strenuous and prolonged permission process, Columbia Care became the first dispensary in the state to start running a delivery service for their patients. It is committed to making its patients’ lives easier and more comfortable and will no doubt be a key component of the future of medical marijuana in New York.
NYC Marijuana Dr. is led by Dr. George Moskowitz, a board-certified family physician with more than 30 years experience under his belt. He is a registered practitioner with the Department of Health and can certify a potential patient into the compulsory New York Medical Marijuana Program. The steps include an initial visit with Moskowitz to determine patient viability, and then, if successful, a follow-up visit where the patient will receive their MMJ certificate. Moskowitz is located in New York City, with a Manhattan branch opening up soon.
Latin for “I am green; I am vigourous,” Vireo Health is a collection of scientists and physicians who have dedicated themselves to the cause of high-quality, highly effective cannabis-based medication. Unlike the previous three medical marijuana dispensaries, Vireo is funded and run by a broad investor base of health care professionals, allowing it to focus on the people who matter most — their patients. Having already established outlets in Maryland and Minnesota, it recently opened a branch in New York. Its mission is simple: produce and distribute pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to patients in need.
Those are the top four in New York.
As a little bonus, here’s a popular dispensary from the state’s closest neighbor!
Not technically located in New York, Garden State is a dispensary in New Jersey, just across the George Washington Bridge. New Jersey’s medical cannabis laws are laxer more lax compared to its neighbor’s strict decrees: Patients in New Jersey can smoke the medicine, as opposed to patients in New York who can only vaporize or consume medical marijuana in oil or edible form. So, if you happen to live across the bridge, you’re in a far better position to consume your medical marijuana than New York residents. Garden State Dispensary is a cool port of call for those looking to pick up their medicine, styling itself almost like an upmarket cocktail bar. They also grow their own medical marijuana, so you can count on their produce being fresh and leafy.
As it stands, because of the harsh laws, options for medical marijuana in New York are pretty scarce. But then again, so are the patients. New York’s list of applicable diseases and afflictions are so narrow and restrictive that there simply aren’t enough patients to render medical marijuana dispensaries profitable and worthwhile.
As the fight to legalize medical cannabis for every patient who needs it rages on in New York, more medical marijuana dispensaries should indeed come to the fore, providing more options and consuming methods for patients across the state.