The advent of the medical marijuana card is fast spreading across the U.S. From California to Colorado to Alaska, more states are becoming more MMJ-friendly as the world starts to wake up to the innumerable benefits that the plant provides. Following the thinking of other like-minded progressive states came New York. Although most people would think of New York using the same terms that they’d think of California — modern, liberal, diverse — what comes as a surprise to most people is that their medical marijuana laws are among the strictest in the country and a far cry from the super-relaxed laws of the Golden State.
CA vs. NY: Medical Marijuana Cards
In California, acquiring a medical marijuana card could not be easier. You fill out a short questionnaire and are then transferred to a doctor who will carry out an online assessment from the comfort of your own home. If they think you’re suitable for an MMJ card, your certification will be posted out with a day or two. Simple huh!?
In New York, it’s a slightly more convoluted process. First, you must book an appointment with you doctor to present them with the illness you think makes you a suitable candidate for medical marijuana treatment (we’ll get into qualifying illnesses later). It’s important to note that the doctor you go to must be registered with the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. If they’re not, they won’t be able to provide you with medical marijuana certification. This doctor will carry out an assessment to determine your suitability for the program. If they think you satisfy all necessary criteria, they’ll provide you with your New York MMJ certification.
When you have this part of the process done and dusted, you must then apply for your Registry ID Card. This is the identification card you must bring with you when you visit the dispensary. This card is acquired by submitting an application to the Department of Health’s Online Patient Registration System. Once your application is rigorously processed, you’ll receive your ID card in the mail.
CA vs. NY: Qualifying Conditions
California medical marijuana laws are pretty relaxed when it comes to for what you can be prescribed MMJ. If your doctor thinks you have a genuine case for a prescription, then you’ll get it regardless of your ailment.
New York’s medical marijuana laws aren’t quite as embracing. In New York, you must suffer from a life-threatening illness such as HIV, Parkinson’s or ALS to get a medical marijuana prescription. Even then, your illness must exhibit significant symptoms such as chronic pain or seizures. These medical marijuana laws are becoming slightly more lax, with post-traumatic stress disorder thankfully getting added to the list of qualifying ailments, but doctors cannot and will not prescribe for anything other than the few illnesses that the law allows.
CA vs. NY: Medical Marijuana Consumption Methods
If you ask a Californian medical marijuana card holder what their favorite way to consume MMJ is, they could give you any kind of answer: smoking, edibles, teas, tinctures. You name a way and you can bet that Californian MMJ card carriers have tried it.
Unfortunately for their New York counterparts, the same level of flexibility is not accommodated. Under New York law, only liquids and oils (for inhalation and vaporization) and capsules are allowed to be used to consume medical marijuana. This means no edibles, no smoothies and absolutely no smoking. If you’re caught smoking medical marijuana in New York, you’ll find yourself in trouble with the law regardless of whether you have a medical marijuana card.
CA vs. NY: Home Cultivation of Medical Marijuana
Not only are certain methods of consumption illegal, but home cultivation is also illegal in New York — another contrast to California. On the Pacific Coast, you can grow up to six mature MMJ plants or 12 immature ones once you have a grower’s license. Although it is likely that New York will relax their medical marijuana laws to mirror California’s, this may not come to fruition for a while.
CA vs. NY: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Although California dispensaries could not be easier to find — and with new ones popping up all the time — New York law only allows for five companies to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana. This will soon be changing as a law was passed late last year to bring this number up to 10.
CA vs. NY: Recreational Marijuana
Probably the biggest and most noticeable difference between Californian and New York medical marijuana laws is the fact that smoking marijuana for recreational reasons has been legalized in the Golden State. New York is likely to follow suit eventually, but until then, cannabis smoking is strictly for those with medical marijuana cards.
Although both states’ willingness to embrace medical marijuana should be lauded, we can’t forget that the plant is actually still illegal at a federal level in the United States. Thankfully, due to the federal government’s laissez-faire attitude on the topic, this is rarely ever an issue for medical marijuana card carriers in either state.
It’s easy to chastise New York and its draconian medical marijuana laws when we compare them to California’s, but we should refrain from doing so. Any sort of legalization is a step in the right direction, and once we see states moving progressively like this, we should be embracing them for it.