The legality of medical marijuana in the states has come a long way and has overcome many obstacles since 1906 when heavy restrictions were placed on marijuana. At one point, it was even classified as a poison. Today, however, marijuana for medical purposes is legal in 29 states, including New York. Since 2014, thanks to the Compassionate Care Act, patients are now allowed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes to treat illnesses such as cancer, HIV and AIDs. There has been evidence that medical marijuana can help with problems from glaucoma to epileptic seizures. People have also reported that medical cannabis has helped with inflammation and pain and with coping with the side effects of chemotherapy.
Medical Marijuana Laws in New York
In comparison to other states such as California, however, New York holds much stricter medical marijuana laws, especially with regards to the qualifying diseases and the form of medicine allowed.
First, only a handful of illnesses is considered qualifying conditions if you want to try medical cannabis. Cancer, Parkinson’s disease, AIDs and multiple sclerosis are just a few of the ailments. However, recent medical marijuana laws have loosened to allow chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder to be classified as a qualifying illness that could allow for the treatment using medical marijuana. This means that if you have severe pain for three months or more that has not responded well to other treatment, then you can apply for a certification from a medical practitioner.
How to Apply for Medical Cannabis in New York
There are a few stages when it comes to applying for medical marijuana. It is not simply a case of going to your doctor and asking for a prescription, which is actually illegal. The first step is to see if your condition comes under the list of qualifying ailments.
The next step is to ensure that your medical practitioner is registered with the New York Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. Only then can they give you a certification for medical cannabis.
Once you have received your certification, you need to register for the Medical Marijuana Program through the department’s online patient registration system.
The last step is waiting to receive a registry identification card, which you will have to show when you go to the dispensary facility.
Where to Buy Medical Marijuana in New York
Out of around 2,000 dispensaries in the United States, there are only a few dispensaries available in New York. Moreover, there are currently less than 1,000 qualified doctors in the city who can prescribe medical marijuana.
Why is this number so low? It is likely to do with the fact that marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug and is considered illegal by the federal government. A possible reason for the strict medical marijuana laws could be that lawmakers are highly suspicious of marijuana being used for recreational purposes. Despite the positive stories people have reported from using medical cannabis to treat their illnesses, the state still believes that this alternative medicine can pose risks.
The Prospect of Recreational Marijuana Use in New York
On the other hand, exciting news has emerged recently hinting that marijuana could also possibly be legalized for recreational use in the Big Apple. If this goes ahead, then, naturally, the expansion of medical marijuana will likely increase, which would hopefully allow more people to have easier access to this natural alternative.
How You Can Consume Medical Marijuana in New York
In terms of the form of medical marijuana allowed in New York, only tinctures and oils are legal, and these can be inhaled, vaporized or taken orally in capsules. Smoking is strictly prohibited.
Furthermore, the amount that you have in possession also has a limit. There is a 30-day supply max at any one time. There are different classes of felonies for just being in possession of cannabis; therefore, it is important to ensure that you always have your registry identification card with you.
On top of these restrictions, the cost is also a big factor that explains why a limited number of people have access to medical marijuana. In comparison to other states such as California and Colorado where cannabis will cost you roughly $15 to $25 a day, in New York, you would have to pay around $180. This is a major problem for people who may qualify for medical marijuana but cannot afford it.
In conclusion, New York possesses much tighter medical marijuana laws with regards to the qualification, form and process of obtaining medical cannabis, especially compared to other states such as California. The number of doctors willing to prescribe medical cannabis and the cost appears to be limiting the number of potential patients.
Things are gradually becoming more lenient though for instance in terms of the types of ailments accepted, and there is hope that the legalization will be less restrictive. But overall, it seems that New York still has some catching up to do compared to other states when it comes to making medical marijuana more easily accessible and affordable for people.