Living ain’t quite as easy for New York MMJ card holders as for their fellow countrymen. Although other states — we’re looking at you, Cali! —have made it super simple to find a medical marijuana dispensary with one on nearly every block, they’re not quite as ubiquitous in the Empire State.
Sadly, this is not the only way New York differs from other states when it comes to medical marijuana laws. New York has its own unique restrictions on acquiring and using medical marijuana, and oftentimes, this is to the detriment of MMJ card holders living there. For example, did you know that you can’t smoke MMJ at all in New York? Or that you can’t consume it in edible form, either?
The strange and restrictive medical marijuana laws in New York have left MMJ card holders baffled as to why legislators have made them so strict. Our best guess is that they want to draw a clean line between recreational and medical users of cannabis by outlawing methods of consumption that are typically associated more with the former than the latter.
It’s also worth noting that you must suffer from a life-threatening illness to get New York medical marijuana certification. Illnesses that fit this description include HIV/AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Additionally, your illness must exhibit “associative or complicated conditions” such as seizures or chronic pain. Thankfully, medical marijuana laws are becoming more inclusive with legislation signed to include post-traumatic stress disorder on the list of allowed illnesses for the New York medical marijuana program.
How to Get Your Medical Marijuana Certificate
Before you start to think about which medical marijuana dispensary you want to use and where to find it, you must first get your MMJ certificate. In keeping with the other strict New York medical marijuana laws, acquiring your MMJ card is slightly harder here than in other states. Your first step in getting your medical marijuana card is having a consultation with a doctor who is registered with the New York Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. This doctor will assess you and your condition for suitability for the program, and if they think you satisfy the necessary criteria, they’ll provide you with your medical marijuana certificate.
Although your certificate is the main piece of documentation that you need to bring with you when you visit the medical marijuana dispensary, you’ll also need to get yourself a Registry Identification Card for the Medical Marijuana Program. This is done online via the Department of Health’s online Patient Registration Program. Once you complete this — and your application is approved (which can, unfortunately, take a while) — they’ll send you your ID card.
If you will be visiting a medical marijuana dispensary and acquiring medical marijuana in your capacity as a carer, you’ll need to have your caregiver’s registry identification with you as well as your patient or loved one’s MMJ certificate. Failure to bring these will mean you will be denied service at the medical marijuana dispensary.
What Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in New York Offer
New York dispensaries are thankfully dotted relatively plentifully throughout the state. From Albany to Erie and from New York City to Westchester, you’ll find a medical marijuana dispensary in just about every corner of the Empire State. New York dispensaries offer medical marijuana in all legal forms, including tinctures, extracts, oils and liquids. All these forms come in different strengths, and you can choose whatever one that best suits you based on your ailment and treatment plan. Medical marijuana dispensary staff are pleasant and friendly and are always happy to assist customers in any way that they can.
Where You Can Buy Medical Marijuana in New York
To find the nearest dispensary to you, check out this list from the Department of Health. Although this list may not seem extensive now, last year new medical marijuana laws were passed effectively doubling the number of companies who can dispense medical marijuana, which means you can expect more and more dispensaries to open up within the next year or two.
For MMJ card holders who are too ill to travel to a medical marijuana dispensary, there are now some companies who will deliver MMJ straight to your door. Companies such as Vireo Health have only in the past few weeks started their delivery service in New York City and Long Island, with a view to expand it to Westchester and Staten Island. This will eradicate the problem of traveling to dispensaries for people with debilitating diseases.
Although selling medical marijuana is a relatively new thing in New York, dispensaries are providing the same level of professionalism seen in other states that are more used to MMJ provision with medical centers such as Columbia Care leading the way. New York dispensaries are calm and relaxed spaces, and thankfully, they don’t feel clinical at all. An important aspect of New York dispensaries is their accessibility. Most — if not all — have been designed with accessibility in mind, which means that people of all physical ability can access them easily.
As New York’s medical marijuana laws become laxer, we’ll start to see more and more dispensaries sprout up around the state. At present, the majority of MMJ card holders do have access to a local medical marijuana dispensary, and soon anyone who doesn’t will be able to get their medical marijuana delivered straight to their home.