New York’s Health Commissioner Howard Zucker recently announced that chronic pain has been added to the list of medical conditions that qualify a patient for medical cannabis use in the state. This change in the law opens the door to many thousands of potential MMJ patients who may want to treat their chronic pain conditions with medical marijuana. If you decide to get a New York medical marijuana card, here are some things you need to remember.
The medical conditions that qualify you to get a New York medical marijuana card are cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, epilepsy, spinal cord injury with spasticity, Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, or chronic pain. Whichever condition you have, it must also be accompanied by one of the following symptoms: severe nausea, seizures, muscle spasms, cachexia or wasting syndrome, or severe or chronic pain.
The March 22, 2017, introduction of chronic pain as a condition that qualifies a patient for medical marijuana use considerably broadened the scope of who can use MMJ in New York. Chronic pain is a symptom of many medical conditions, so its inclusion on the list makes it possible for many thousands of people with a whole host of illnesses that up until recently had been excluded from availing of medical marijuana.
It is important to remember that, at this point in time, conditions such as depression, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, post-traumatic stress disorder and rheumatoid arthritis do not qualify a person to get a cannabis card in New York.
Getting a New York Medical Marijuana Card
The first step to getting a medical marijuana card in New York is to contact a New York Department of Health-registered physician so they can decide whether you are eligible to use medical cannabis to treat your specific condition and symptoms.
On your doctor’s certificate, it should state the brand and form of approved medical cannabis product you are being prescribed, the administration method, any limitations on the use of that product as well as any dosage recommendations.
Registering as a Medical Cannabis User
Once you have your MMJ certificate from a registered physician, you need to register as a medicinal cannabis user with the New York Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program (this can be done through their online Patient Registration System). There is a non-refundable $50 application fee. But the department is currently waiving this fee for all patients and designated caregivers. To have the fee waived, select “Bill Me Later” when completing your online registration. When you have completed registration you will receive a Registry Identification Card, usually within seven working days. This Registry Identification Card is your marijuana card. Hurray!
When you have completed registration you will receive a Registry Identification Card, usually within seven working days. This Registry Identification Card is your marijuana card. Hurray!
Understanding Caregiver Rules
If a patient is a minor (under 18 years old) or incapable of consenting to medical treatment for some reason, the application can be made by a caregiver. A patient can have up to two caregivers. A caregiver can have up to five patients. A caregivers must be registered with the Department of Health, be over 21 years old, be a resident of New York and have a New York driver’s license or ID card, be either a parent or guardian of the patient, a person designated by the patient’s parent or guardian, or a suitable person approved by the Department of Health if no parent or legal guardian is available.
Buying Medical Marijuana in New York
Your New York medical marijuana card allows you to buy medical cannabis products in any one of the state’s dispensaries. The products available in New York dispensaries are limited to oils and liquids for vaporization or administration by inhaler, as well as orally administered tablets. Smoking cannabis is still banned, as are edibles.
There are two mandated medical marijuana products that all New York dispensaries stock. One has a low-THC high-CBD ratio, and the other is a 50050 ratio. Each dispensary also has a variety of other MMJ products available that you can buy with your New York medical marijuana card.
Your card enables you to purchase a 30-day supply of medical cannabis products.
Sadly, your New York medical marijuana card does not allow you to cultivate your own herb in your own home. Hopefully, this will become an option in the not too distant future.
New York has one of the country’s newest programs, and it is still a little bit too limited, but at least the state has now got the ball rolling. The number of weed card holders in New York is rising steadily, and hopefully, the program will be tweaked and improved in the years to come.