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In June 2014, medical marijuana was deemed legal in the state of New York. The state became the 23rd in a current line up of 29 states to legalize the drug. Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought in the new measures, which had long been campaigned for by various activist’s groups around the state. Despite the appearance of concession to medical cannabis, New York’s medical marijuana laws have turned out to be some of the most restrictive in the country. Although Cuomo bowed to external pressure, he kept the new act, named the Compassionate Care Act, extremely conservative, conforming with his previously known anti-marijuana stance. One thing New York has in common with all the other states, however, is the requirement that patients have a medical marijuana recommendation.

Some of the more controversial decrees of the Compassionate Care Act include a limited list of qualifying conditions, a ban on consuming medical cannabis by smoking or eating it, and a very short list of growers and medical marijuana dispensaries allowed across the state.

As it stood until very recently, medical cannabis is a treatment acceptable for only a few severe illnesses, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, ALS and multiple sclerosis. Although in the past few months, progress has been made on the qualifying condition front. Since March, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder have now been added to the list. All in all, it’s a bit of a trial to get the all-important medical marijuana recommendation in New York, as opposed to states such as California, where it’s quite a straightforward process.

With the addition of chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions, however, it’s a lot easier to get a medical cannabis prescription than it used to be. But the first step, as in any state, is the medical marijuana recommendation. This medical marijuana recommendation is crucial because it recognizes the holder’s legal right to avail of medical marijuana.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Recommendation

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To get a medical marijuana recommendation in New York, you must be able to provide proof of address, preferably with a state-issued ID.

First and foremost, you must establish that you’re a resident of New York. You must be able to provide proof of address, preferably with a state-issued ID. The next stage is procuring a written certification from a registered practitioner. In places such as California, this is no problem at all because the medical marijuana laws are extremely lax. However, in New York, it can be a serious challenge to find a doctor who is part of the state-registered medical cannabis program. There are only 800 of them, and the state chooses not to publicly publish their information. This is due to a staunch anti-marijuana branch of government that wants New York to be seen as compassionate in care yet still very opposed to marijuana as a recreational drug.

If you can’t secure a written certification in person, it can be equally effective to source one online, which is a simple and clear-cut process. As medical cannabis becomes more less regulated across the country, this is becoming an effective way to source a quick certification for your specific condition so you can get treated quickly, whichever state you’re in. However, if you’re unsure about the medical marijuana recommendation process or are new to the world of medical cannabis, you can always have an informal chat about the medicine with your regular health care provider and find out the plan that’s best for you.

The Conditions That Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Recommendation

Next in the medical marijuana recommendation process comes the all-important qualifying conditions. Obviously, you have to suffer from a condition that the state deems worthy of medical marijuana treatment. Previously, the conditions were specific and severe. Chronic pain, however, is something a lot of people suffer from. For the sake of the New York medical marijuana law, chronic pain is described as any severe, debilitating pain that a medical practitioner determines worsens health and functional capability. Obviously, this could apply to many conditions, so this little addition has opened the door for many would-be medical marijuana patients to finally get the treatment they deserve.

The Medical Cannabis Program in New York

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Although it can be a tough road to get there, the signs are clear that the strict process is easing in New York.

After you’ve secured your medical marijuana recommendation — congratulations! You’re officially part of the program! The next step is to actually get your medicine. You can only do this at one of the state-listed medical marijuana dispensaries. There are only 19 of these currently operating in the state, run by just five state-monitored organizations, but luckily for the New York City-based patients, many of them can be found in and around town.

As the list of qualifying conditions become less restrictive, however, you can expect the dispensary rules to follow suit. The other important thing to remember is that currently, medical cannabis cannot be consumed in edible or smokable forms. The only types available for legal purchase are liquids, oils for vaporizing, capsules or inhalers.

Once you’ve found your medicine, the final step is to reap the benefits of its healing properties! Although it can be a tough road to get there, the signs are clear that the strict process is easing in New York. As more and more states come to accept the benefits of medical marijuana, the drug will become more and more widespread.

For now, though, if you’re a New York City patient who thinks they could prosper from some medical marijuana, following the steps above will make sure you get your medical marijuana recommendation the quickest and most effective way you can!

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