What Is The Legal Amount Of MMJ You Can Carry In New York?

Medical marijuana in New York has been legal since legislation for the Compassionate Care Act was passed in June of 2014. This has given residents of the state access to the relief that MMJ can provide for a plethora of different conditions. There are many illnesses that qualify for medical marijuana, and anyone with the proper documentation and medical marijuana card can use it to help them cope.

However, there are certain limitations that New York MMJ users face. These laws are put in place to keep the use of medical marijuana for treating chronic illness safe and effective. It’s important to know these rules – for example: what is the legal amount of MMJ you can carry in New York?

MMJ In New York

New York State implemented the New York State Medical Marijuana Program to help patients gain access to this treatment option while following all the rules and regulations surrounding possession and use of cannabis intended for medical use. In NY, medical marijuana can be bought and ingested with a proper medical card and appropriate diagnosis.

Medicaid, or other health insurances, do not cover the use of medical marijuana for any chronic illness, and thus, those looking to supplement their treatment with cannabis will have to pay out of pocket. However, the processes that patients go through such as evaluation and certification are covered by New York State Medicaid.

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Image by Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash: Medical marijuana in New York State is approved in a few forms, including pills and capsules.

New York Drug Laws

The drug laws in New York State are virtually the same as they had been prior to the legalization of medical marijuana. Patients are limited in where they can get their marijuana, because only 20 or less dispensaries are able to operate across the state. The particular facilities that are allowed to sell medical marijuana must only sell cannabis in non-smokable form.

The growth, possession, use, or selling of recreational marijuana in any amount is still illegal in the state of New York and penalties are still in place that range in severity from a fine to jail time, depending on the charge. The good news is that a law is in place that allows people previously charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana to have their criminal records expunged in relation to that charge.  

How Much Medical Marijuana Can You Carry In New York?

For a person with a New York MMJ card, the amount of MMJ they can have at any given time isn’t entirely clear. This is because the state allows card holders to buy “a 30-day supply” of medical marijuana at a time. Since medical practitioners are in charge of prescribing dosing, this numbers may vary from patient to patient depending on their own personal needs.

There is a New York State Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) that compiles data from all patients so that doctors can review each patient’s history thoroughly and make a treatment plan and amount on a case-by-case basis. All medical marijuana purchases are also added to the PMP database. To purchase and carry medical marijuana in the state of New York, a person must have also been certified with a New York State registry identification card. No out-of-state cards are accepted.

Is Flower Legal In NY?

Smoking of cannabis is illegal in the state of New York, whether it is medical or recreational. However, the laws do not clearly state that cannabis in the dried flower form is illegal to possess by a person with a certified medical marijuana card. All forms of medical cannabis need to first be approved by the commissioner, including the dried flower form.

Since the New York State Department of Health has also urged medical marijuana users to avoid vape products because of their possible link to pulmonary illnesses, the use of dried flowers is typically difficult without being able to smoke or vape.

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Image by Kimzy Nanney on Unsplash: MMJ flower may not technically be illegal in New York State, but its main ingestion methods are.

Are Edibles Legal In New York State?

Edibles are currently prohibited in the state; however, the law allows for food and beverage manufacturers to create edibles using only cannabidiol (CBD) without the THC component. The forms of medical marijuana that patients have legal access to ingest include capsules, liquids, sprays, oils, and vaporizers. 

The legalization of medical marijuana in New York State has given many individuals with chronic illnesses a chance for new treatment options. Each patient is different, which is why the law provides a loose definition of how much a person can carry at one time – a 30-day supply – so that each patient can get their allotted amount to help with their specific condition.

Featured image by Tania Fernandez on Unsplash

Why 2018 Is Already The Best Year For MMJ Patients

Medical marijuana has had a long and difficult road to get to where it finds itself in 2018. Although MMJ has many proven health benefits, and can ease symptoms of a wide variety of illnesses and afflictions, the progressive drug therapy has seen itself radically criminalized in some circles, and continues to be a point of contention for many conservative governors, senators, and councilmen/women.  However, the outlier medicine has made fantastic strides over the last decade or so, which means that 2018 is looking to be the year the pendulum swings fully in favor of MMJ and its assorted infrastructure.

The tide started to turn way back in 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. This was a big deal 22 years ago, and although it wasn’t the first state to complete the circle and legalize recreational marijuana (that particular accolade goes to Colorado and Washington simultaneously), the Golden State has continued to be a frontrunner in marijuana advocation and legislation throughout the past two decades. The state legalized recreational marijuana the day after a tumultuous presidential election, and can (in theory) start selling the drug this year. More on that later.

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Will 2018 be a turning point for medical marijuana in the U.S.? We think so.

Currently, 29 states (and Washington D.C.) have legalized medical marijuana, so we’re well past the halfway threshold in terms of cumulative state legislation. Signs are strong that the 30th state won’t be too far off, and several more look set to follow throughout 2018, meaning that this year could potentially see the biggest turnover of states to pro-green status since California ruled in MMJ’s favor 22 years ago. However, because medical marijuana doesn’t constitute a federal initiative, the way these 29-and-counting states are approaching MMJ is wildly different, and can have consequences for patients depending on their location.

Evidence of these interstate discrepancies can be found in the case of New York. The East Coast state has long been considered a liberal bastion, and can usually stand toe-to-toe with the large liberal stronghold on the West Coast that is California. However, when it comes to medical marijuana, New York seemed to stumble; this is largely due to the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, being highly against marijuana in general, and seeing it as a “gateway drug,” even in a medicinal capacity. This didn’t stop MMJ being legalized in New York in 2014, but it was introduced as one of the most restrictive and conservative programs anywhere in the country, which surprised many people. One obvious example of this restrictiveness is that patients could not consume the drug in its leaf form, which has been regarded as the most potent form, and the most likely to help ease symptoms.

Fortunately, in 2018, patients could see the situation change for the better, courtesy of NY’s neighbours, New Jersey. Intense advocation has already seen the qualifying condition “chronic pain” added to the list, which has opened up MMJ care to  whole host of patients who could previously not access it. 2018 will more than likely see recreational marijuana legalized in New Jersey, as well as Massachusetts and even Connecticut, surrounding New York with liberal marijuana laws. Under that kind of pressure, Cuomo and the conservative elements of New York are sure to crack, paving the way for recreational marijuana, and helping the cause of medical marijuana in the process.

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The legalization of recreational marijuana is in fact helping the cause of medical marijuana in several ways.

You might wonder why medical marijuana has a place at all if recreational marijuana is taking the country by storm. In fact, the opposite is proving to be true; the legalization of recreational marijuana only serves to heighten the importance, and provide advantages to, the cause of MMJ. Take California as an example. Recreational marijuana was due to start being legally sold in the state as of January 1st, 2018. However, due to intense concerns about expanding a previously black market-based operation into the full light of legality, it has yet to occur, and looks like it won’t for some time.

What has occurred is a sales tax break for patients using medical marijuana, which is fantastic news for those who are committed to using the drug to treat their ailments. Also, the specialist care that doctors provide to patients when it comes to selecting the correct strain of marijuana for their conditions is still paramount; self-medicating with recreational marijuana is a very poor idea indeed.

So, the advancement of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana laws go hand in hand; instead of one eclipsing the other, they in fact work in tandem. This has already been proven at the start of the year in California, and as 2018 goes on and both causes are furthered simultaneously, the future looks bright for medical marijuana. Even though it’s only March, it’s easy to see why many people are considering this year the best year yet for MMJ; and with many months still to go, it could shine brighter yet.

An In-Depth Look at MMJ Qualifying Conditions

Medical marijuana has been legalized in the U.S. since 1996, although the legislature applies on a state-by-state basis. The first state to blaze the trail was California, and since then, 28 others have followed in its footsteps, with several more waiting in the wings, on the cusp of legalization. Unfortunately for patients, MMJ law is not a federal affair, which can lead to a host of caveats for each legalization bill depending on the state you’re in. One of these caveats is the list of MMJ qualifying conditions for each state – that is, the conditions for which medical marijuana is an applicable and legal treatment.

Essentially, in order to qualify and avail of medical marijuana and allow doctors to legally prescribe it to you, you must have a diagnosed ailment that appears on the list of MMJ qualifying conditions accompanying every MMJ law that has been made per state. Once you’ve confirmed that your condition is on the list, then you can apply for your medical marijuana card from an authorized physician; this can be your primary care doctor, or it can easily be acquired online via telemedicine sites. Once you have that, you are free to visit dispensaries and avail of the medicine, in accordance with the supply and possession laws of each state.

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MMJ qualifying conditions vary from state to state, so it’s best to check your local policies to see whether you qualify.

Marijuana has been medically proven to lessen the symptoms of a great number of diseases; in fact, it has been used as a medicine in some form for many years, even preceding the introduction of it into law by California in ’96. However, not all states agree on what should be legally treatable with MMJ. The main reason for this is a worry that they might come across too vague, which would lead to abuse of a drug still considered illegal in many places in a recreational sense. Even with the advent of legal recreational marijuana, which has been legalized in eight states so far, MMJ qualifying conditions are still a hot topic among state governments.

In California, for example, the policy has always been very liberal in favour of medical marijuana, and the state’s MMJ qualifying conditions reflect that. Even though recreational marijuana has been legalized in the state since November 9th, 2016, it is still advantageous to have a medical marijuana card, because there are specific strains that treat specific diseases much better than the recreational strains. California and Colorado have also offered reduced sales taxes to patients in an effort to preserve their long-established and successful medical marijuana programs, which is a huge incentive for patients to continue with the program. There is also the fact that a state-wide rollout of medical marijuana has not yet been achieved by California, and could still be some way off, looking at the current progress on that front.

The most common MMJ qualifying conditions and ailments are pretty much seen across the board, in whatever state you’re in. They include cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, which are all conditions where the marijuana can induce relaxation to remove some of the pressure and stress on the muscles and afflicted organs. There are also many other less common illnesses which are listed on each state’s MMJ qualifying conditions list, although be aware that it does change from state to state.

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Laws regarding MMJ are very different in California than they are in New York.

One of the most controversial of these conditions is listed simply as “chronic pain,” which, when you think about it, is more of a symptom than a condition in and of itself. However, it is a crucial one to list on the spectrum of qualifying conditions because it allows a great many sufferers to avail of the medicine without needing to be specific about their condition. It also allows doctors a freer hand in prescribing the medicine, as they won’t be too caught up in the legality of what they’re prescribing and what condition they’re prescribing it for. “Chronic pain” was in the wording of the first MMJ qualifying conditions outlined in the U.S., by California in 1996, but unfortunately, not all states agree that it should be included.

One controversial example was New York, a state which is known for its generally liberal leanings. Many expected it to follow suit with a progressive medical marijuana bill, but not only did it take 18 years to get the bill through the Senate, when it was revealed, it proved to be an extremely restrictive piece of legislation. One of the many issues was the absence of “chronic pain,” an omission that left many patients unable to avail of the drug. Due to intense lobbying and pressure, “chronic pain” has since been added to the NY list of conditions, but unfortunately, there are still a few states where that is not the case. As we work toward building an MMJ-friendly country, it’s good advice to take note of MMJ law in each individual state, and make sure your specific condition is listed.

Will the MMJ Revolution Spread to Non-MMJ States?

The medical marijuana revolution is well and truly upon America. It started with a trickle, and little by little grew into a full-on flood; in 2017, 29 states are MMJ legal, and many more look set to follow over the coming months and years. The medical marijuana cause is bolstered by the increased acceptance of recreational marijuana in certain parts of the country. It stands to reason that if people are being allowed personal use, patients in need of its therapeutic benefits become impossible to deny. Although they are two separate strands of the same essential argument, MMJ stands to gain the most ground as the debate continues across America.

So where did MMJ start? Well, basically, medical marijuana has been around for a long time, and it wasn’t always considered an illegal substance. American medical journals dating all the way back from the late 18th century recommend using hemp seeds and roots for medicinal practices. 1914 was the first time the substance was criminalized, and any gains made in the subsequent decades were derailed by the Reagan in the 1970s, when he came down hard on drugs. Since that time, however, the trend has shifted towards relaxation. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, and by 2009, twelve more states had followed its lead. Fast forward to 2017, and 29 states have gone green for medical cannabis, as well as the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. West Virginia is the latest state to join the revolution, with the remaining 21 still to follow.

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Will medical cannabis be made legal in all 50 states?

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, though. 1996 to 2017 is 21 years, which is a long time to cover just over half the country. Judging by those statistics, we can estimate that all 50 states will be MMJ legal by 2038, which seems a crazy amount of time to wait for what is tried and tested medical care. Also, while California pioneered the medicine with little resistance, and had some of the most liberal MMJ law in the country, the same rules don’t apply in every state.

A surprising battle was fought in the traditionally liberal stronghold of New York, for instance. The Governor there, Andrew Cuomo, has long held a conservative stance on medical cannabis, and was hesitant to bring in a blanket MMJ law such as California’s without curtailing it with some limiting caveats. The debate took up most of 2014, and although the MMJ law eventually passed, it was not without some seriously restrictive measures. One of the biggest issues is that New York does not allow patients to smoke medical marijuana, which is proven to be the most effective method of administering the medicine. There is also a heavy restriction on the amount of dispensaries that can sell MMJ, which limits the amount of patients that can be served at any one time.

Upon its legalization, there were also very few qualifying conditions in the New York bill. Qualifying conditions are important, because the more specific they are, the more doctors are limited (by law) in who they can administer the medicine to. At the advent of the bill in NY, only severe conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s, and ALS were approved to be treated by MMJ. This is problematic because one of the conditions that most benefits from the drug is ‘chronic pain’, which can occur separate from any named disease. This also lets doctors be much freer about who they can prescribe too. After much campaigning, ‘chronic pain’ was added to the list of New York MMJ qualifying conditions, but the MMJ cause in the East Coast state is still on very thin ice, with some maintaining that it has been designed to fail from the start.

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MMJ laws differ significantly from state to state.

New York is just one example of a state where MMJ law has had (and continues to have) birthing problems. Unfortunately, not every state agrees with the core tenets of MMJ practice, and so there are wildly varying caveats to each state’s bill. The federal government can’t  make one definitive ruling on MMJ law, so until then, we’re stuck with going on a state-by-state basis, with all the red tape and bureaucratic back-and-forth that entails.

Another debilitating factor is that many of the hardline conservative states such as Alabama are proving to be a very tough sell indeed when it comes to MMJ. ‘Legalizing drugs’ in even the vaguest sense (even if it benefited sick people) would seemingly represent a major corruption of values. Though marijuana possession has been gradually decriminalized in Alabama, those in the know suggest that it will likely be one of the last states to make medical cannabis legal. Ultimately, it’s a matter of time and waiting, however frustrating that may be. The MMJ revolution will eventually spread to all 50 states of the U.S.A.; but how long it takes to do that is currently anyone’s guess.

Why New York Is The New Medical Marijuana State

New York State’s legal medical marijuana program became operational in January 2017. The program has caused a lot of controversy, both in the lead-up to its commencement, and since. And the controversy rages still.

The problem that a lot of people have with New York MMJ laws is that, despite the state’s tradition of inclusiveness, open-mindedness, and liberalism, the medical cannabis program that its scientists, legislators, and politicians devised and put into operation is pretty much one of the most restrictive and limited in all of North America. People who were excitedly anticipating New York becoming a weed-friendly state along the lines of Washington, Colorado, and California, with funky Manhattan dispensaries educating people and selling the latest boutique strains and tasty organic edibles, are now sorely disappointed.

Getting a New York medical marijuana card from your friendly old neighborhood doc and using it to pick up some Lemon OG Kush in your cozy corner dispensary to treat your insomnia, anxiety, glaucoma, or backache is absolutely not an option in New York.

Only ‘severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions’ qualify a person to get a New York medical marijuana card under the state’s ‘wet behind the ears’ medical herb laws. Originally, only having one of a horror show of diseases and conditions, combined with some truly gruesome symptoms, qualified people for a New York medical cannabis card. Cancer, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease were initially the only conditions that made someone eligible, and on top of this, the patient’s condition had to include a symptom of cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or persistent muscle spasms, severe or chronic pain, nausea, or seizures. Thankfully the state amended the law in March to include chronic pain as another qualifying condition. This more vague condition has made it easier for patients to qualify for the program. So it’s not as draconian as it was at the beginning, but it’s still considerably more limited than most other states with regards to what conditions qualify a person to get a New York medical cannabis card.

New York MMJ laws are particularly restrictive at this stage.

Alongside the severely limiting list of qualifying conditions, there are also several other issues that restrict the effectiveness of New York State’s MMJ program. There are only a meager twenty dispensaries allowed to operate in the state (a mere one for the entire island of Manhattan!); smoking and edibles are banned and only oils and tinctures are allowed; a paltry variety of MMJ products are available to choose from; the prices are higher than in other states; and home cultivation is strictly prohibited. Medical cannabis advocates and patients and many physicians in the state are feeling deflated and hard done by.

But is this situation going to change? Is this awkward, cumbersome, red tape-wrapped MMJ program the best that New Yorkers can hope for? And importantly, will New York State’s restrictive and, some might say, half-hearted adoption of a medical marijuana program serve as a template to follow for other states that have yet to legalize medical marijuana, but are likely to do so in the future?

Murmurs coming from the Department of Health are giving a glimmer of hope. Scientists responsible for designating a medical condition weed card-worthy are at pains to point out the fact that they are always careful to stay up-to-date with the latest research, and that no designation is written in stone. As soon as ample evidence presents itself that a condition can be helped by medical marijuana use, they say they will amend their decision and recommend that it be included on the list of qualifying conditions. They put their money where their mouth is in March when they decided that chronic pain should become a qualifying condition. They are also putting their weight behind moves to include PTSD and menstrual cramps on the list, and it looks like these conditions will become the newest ailments to be included on the list very soon.

With regards to number of dispensaries, available products, methods of ingestion, and home cultivation, things look like they will move more slowly, but with large states such as California going all-in, legalizing marijuana outright, and seeing huge economic benefits, it seems likely that New York State will move, albeit slowly, in the direction of less restrictive cannabis laws.

Will New York follow in California’s footsteps?

With regards to the question of other, more conservative states using the restrictive model of New York MMJ laws as a template for their own programs, this seems quite likely. New York is a highly influential state. The draft bill that Pennsylvania is currently working on is highly restrictive, and many southern and midwestern states are keen to introduce severely limited MMJ laws (if they introduce them at all).

This is an unfortunate state of affairs, as it gives states an excuse to introduce restrictive, unhelpful laws of their own, and thus may turn out to cause undue pain and hassle to patients in many different areas of the country.

Let’s hope that the slow movements New York State is making towards improving their program pick up pace, because as the newest and most high-profile medical marijuana state, they wield a lot of influence. The country is watching closely. What will New York, the new medical marijuana state, do next?

Are New York’s Medical Marijuana Laws Going to Relax Any Time Soon?

New York State’s new medical marijuana program, which came into effect on the 6th January 2017, has been criticized by a lot of people for being one of the most restrictive, limited, and non-user-friendly medical cannabis programs in the entire country. And these criticisms are certainly not unfounded. The New York medical marijuana card program is extremely limited in its current form.

There is an abundance of very strict and highly limiting rules and regulations wrapped tightly around the New York medical card program, and as a result of this, many physicians, providers, and patients feel severely hamstrung and unable to get optimal value from the program.

Currently only a limited list (much more limited than in other parts of the country) of ailments and conditions qualify a person to be treated with medical marijuana. Initially, only cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy Huntington’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and neuropathy qualified a person to be prescribed MMJ. More recently, on 22nd March 2017, chronic pain was added to the list. It was hoped that rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, and dystonia would qualify a person, but the Department of Health has refused at this time to designate these conditions a suitable to qualify a person for a New York medical cannabis card.

The laws are currently very strict regarding dispensaries. There are very few dispensaries in the state in which to use a New York marijuana card. The new program only allows 20 dispensaries in total to operate in the entire state. This situation makes life quite difficult for many MMJ patients.

The New York medical marijuana program is strict and not at all user-friendly.

The only dispensary on Manhattan, located near the 3rd Avenue subway station, is far from the welcoming, educational mecca to medical marijuana that many of the dispensaries in other, more MMJ-friendly states are. It is a tightly controlled building with unmanned security gates (almost prison-like) that patients get buzzed through. It is clean and efficient but it has no interesting edibles or innovative new strains of smokable herb to explore – a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of delightful medical cannabis treats it most certainly is NOT! There is zero edible or smokable MMJ for sale. Only tinctures and oils that can be taken from an inhaler or vaporizer are allowed in New York State, and the prices are higher than in most other states in the country. Insurance companies in the state do not cover a patient for medical marijuana use.

The certificate provided to a patient by a doctor recommending MMJ use must have stated upon it the type of MMJ they should use, the method of administration and the amount – this prevents a patient from experimenting with different types of medical cannabis and different methods of ingestion, which is very limiting.

New York residents are hoping the list of MMJ qualifying ailments will grow in the future.

Home cultivation is still strictly prohibited by the New York State program.

So for these reasons the medical marijuana program in New York State is currently very tight and restrictive. But there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. There seems to be a very slow but gradual creep towards opening up taking place. A more relaxed and inclusive regime may not be too far away.

One gets the impression that, even though change and movement is slow, the vast majority of changes that occur over the coming years will result in more relaxed laws.

Despite the fact that the list of qualifying conditions is currently very restricted, there is a definite cautious open-mindedness detectable from the scientists at the Department of Health that are responsible for investigating what ailments should qualify a patient for MMJ treatment. While they are currently of the opinion that a shorter list of conditions is treatable by MMJ than their compatriots in most other states, they have reassured the public adamantly that they are keeping up-to-date on all new research and are completely willing to change their minds as soon as compelling evidence presents itself. This bodes well for a future relaxation of the laws regarding qualifying medical conditions.

This willingness to change the specifics of the program was demonstrated in March 2017 when ‘chronic pain’ was added to the list of qualifying ailments, opening the door to many new potential patients.

And the progress continues. PTSD looks likely to become a qualifying condition in the near future. A bipartisan bill that will designate PTSD a ‘qualifying condition’ has already passed the Senate Health Committee and is currently awaiting approval by the Senate.

Another ailment that looks like it will imminently be designated a ‘qualifying condition’ is dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps). Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal has introduced a bill to allow menstrual cramps to be treated with MMJ. She is confident that the bill will be passed. ‘We’re a progressive state. It did take 20 years to get medical marijuana to be the law, but we’re going to work hard to get it passed.’

It seems like her optimism is justified. The cannabis card New York program is currently tight and restrictive, but as Rosenthal says, New York is a traditionally progressive state, and its MMJ program, although currently restrictive, does seem to be moving towards a more relaxed and open place, slowly but surely.

Which Ailments Are Covered Under New York Medical Marijuana Laws?

If you’ve read anything about medical marijuana, it’s likely that you’re aware of the very forgiving laws in California and are open to trying different strains and methods to treat your illness or condition. From anxiety, depression, eating disorders and multiple sclerosis, to cancer and Parkinson’s disease, medical marijuana can help alleviate many symptoms of different illnesses or conditions.

However, not all states have the same laws and New York has a particularly strict medical marijuana program that only covers certain illnesses and ailments.

Cancer

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Although some think that using medical marijuana for cancer symptoms shouldn’t be allowed, many have found that MMJ has helped alleviate the pain associated with cancer.

Cancer can be defined as a condition that is typified by abnormal cell growth. It can occur at any site on the body and means that tumors form due to cells reproducing too quickly. As a result of these tumors, other symptoms can occur including pain, bleeding, coughing, visible lumps and blood in urine or stool, depending on the site of the cancer. It can be easily treated through surgery or chemotherapy or can be a terminal illness – depending on the cancer’s location and the time of diagnosis.

HIV/AIDS

HIV is a virus that attacks the human immune system, destroying white blood cells and thus the body’s ability to fight illness. AIDS is the associated syndrome that occurs when HIV progresses into obvious illness. Symptoms of AIDS include pneumonia, Kaposi’s sarcoma  (a very rare form of skin cancer), sweating and diarrhea. HIV is transmitted through blood and sexual fluids and is most commonly passed on through sexual intercourse, sharing of contaminated needles for intravenous drug use and from mother to baby in utero.

ALS

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ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a severely debilitating disease that causes people to lose all muscle function.

ALS is also known as motor neurone disease, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and it affects neurones that control muscles in the body. It means that those affected by this condition slowly lose control of all muscle function and become unable to walk, speak, feed themselves or control bodily functions. It is a slow-killing disease and most sufferers die from losing the ability to breathe while sleeping.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system that controls movement in the body. It is characterized by an unstable posture, muscle shaking and rigid limbs. It is slow-progressing and really impacts the lives of those affected, as it becomes impossible to take care of oneself without assistance due to incessant muscle shaking and posture limitations.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease that affects the coverings of nerves in the brain and spinal cord. It can present a variety of differing symptoms depending on the type of MS present, but symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness, general pain, diarrhea and muscle spasms. While it is not typically defined as a terminal illness, it does have the potential to limit the life expectancy of those who are diagnosed with it.

Damage to the Nervous Tissue of the Spinal Cord with Objective Neurological Indication of Intractable Spasticity

Intractable spasticity is a muscle control disorder that is usually cause by trauma to the brain or spinal cord. It is most common in those who have suffered an accident such as a car collision, fall or abuse. It is defined by spasms, deformities and generalized muscle and bone pain.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is characterised by seizures. The severity and frequency of the seizures varies from person to person and is also dependent on the type of epilepsy diagnosed. It can be present from birth or can be brought on by brain injuries, brain tumors or strokes. Epilepsy diagnosed in childhood can sometimes disappear with the onset of puberty.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of autoimmune illnesses that involve the ulceration or inflammation of the bowel and lower intenstine. The most common types of inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions are often very painful and can limit the sufferer’s ability to live an independent life due to the need to be close to a toilet.

Neuropathy

Neuropathy is nerve damage that an affect any part of the body. Its cause can be obvious or totally unknown and symptoms include tingling, numbness, tremors and extreme pain.

Chronic Pain as Defined by 10 NYCRR §1004.2(a)(8)(xi)

The NYC MMJ bill defines chronic pain as “any severe debilitating pain that the practitioner determines degrades health and functional capability; where the patient has contraindications, has experienced intolerable side effects, or has experienced failure of one or more previously tried therapeutic options; and where there is documented medical evidence of such pain having lasted three months or more beyond onset, or the practitioner reasonably anticipates such pain to last three months or more beyond onset.”

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is a genetically inherited illness that results in the destruction of brain cells. Symptoms usually begin in late thirties or early forties and include random muscle jerks, subtle changes in personality and random eye movements. Sufferers then degenerate further and sleep and muscle control are affected. Death most commonly occurs within twenty years of diagnosis from pneumonia, heart disease or suicide.

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Medical marijuana is helpful from a wide range of symptoms, from something serious, like cancer, to something more common, like nausea.

As well as one of the conditions above, you need to be suffering from one of the following associated symptoms or conditions as a result of your illness:

  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Severe or chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures
  • Severe or persistent muscles spasms 

Obviously, it is far more complex a process to get an MMJ card in New York than in other states. The best thing to do is to speak to your primary care physician if you suffer from one of the above conditions and to get their advice on if this is a good route of treatment for you to pursue.

3 Musicians Who Love Medical Cannabis

For better or worse, drugs have always been synonymous with the music industry. Some of the biggest acts in the world have confessed to being ‘inspired’ by various narcotics; The Beatles were on them, Pink Floyd were on them, Keith Richards is still on them. Out of all the drugs out there however, marijuana reigns supreme; it features all over the musical spectrum, from rap to psychedelic prog rock, and most musicians aren’t shy about professing their love for it. Some go the extra step, and become full on advocates for legalization; a select few are heavy proponents of medical marijuana, and have been furthering the MMJ cause in the public eye.

This kind of mainstream support for medical marijuana has certainly helped the cause, with some performers relentlessly campaigning for the drug over many years. The recent spate of MMJ legalization (29 states to date have legalized the medicine) is certainly a victory for advocates, and the trend looks set to continue over the coming months and years. Some musicians are advocates of marijuana in general – some specifically MMJ – and some even view the popularity of the drug as a premium business opportunity, lending their name to dispensaries and stains.

With all this celebrity endorsement in mind, we’re taking a look at three prominent musicians who’ve publicly endorsed or supported MMJ in the past, some of whom remain heavily involved in marijuana advocacy across the U.S. in 2017.

Melissa Etheridge

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American rock star Melissa Etheridge has been a fan of medical marijuana since she claims it helped her recover from breast cancer.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge is one of the most outspoken proponents of MMJ, especially after she underwent a traumatic experience with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2004, Etheridge managed to beat the disease and is now completely cancer-free; she ascribes her recovery to her use of medical marijuana. She has since claimed that she believes everyone who uses marijuana ‘is doing so medicinally, whether they consider it so or not’.

Last year, Etheridge put her money where her mouth is and set up her own company, Etheridge Farms, which will soon be providing patients in California with her own homegrown product. Etheridge was also highly vocal about New York’s lackluster efforts to legalize MMJ, and called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to pass the Compassionate Care Act for patients across the state, which he finally did in 2014.

Despite the bill going through, New York legalized an extremely conservative MMJ program, which has undergone heavy criticism since its introduction three years ago. So it looks like Melissa still has a bit more work to do on the east coast; hopefully she might turn her advocacy attention back there sometime soon!

The Game

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The rapper known as The Game is a proponent of MMJ; he created his own strain earlier in 2016 for use in traditional cigarettes and drinks.

A recent newcomer to the MMJ scene is rapper The Game, who sees the legalization and recent acceptance of the medicine as a business investment. While he’s not the first star to involve himself in the marijuana business, he’s doing it in an innovative way; in August last year he became an official partner in The Reserve, an MMJ dispensary which operates out of Santa Ana, California. The Reserve is a legally licensed dispensary, which makes The Game the first celebrity to partner with an outlet of this kind.

He stated that he ‘finally has a platform to legally cultivate and sell a plant that saves lives and is changing our world in a positive way’. The rapper also created his own strain earlier in 2016 for use in traditional cigarettes and drinks, and is planning on creating a few more strains for his new partnership with The Reserve.

The Game isn’t the only hip hop star to dabble in marijuana creation; fellow rappers Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have both invested in marijuana and developed their own unique brand of the herb, which is used medicinally and recreationally in legalized states.

Sting

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English rocker Sting has been an avid fan of medical cannabis use, especially because he believes it helps those with qualifying illnesses and conditions that need it for their health.

English rocker Sting has been a vocal proponent of ending America’s ‘War on Drugs’ for many years. In 2010, he came out with a strongly-worded article in the Huffington Post where he allied himself with the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization which champions the smart legalization of some drugs and condemns the failures and titanic costs of the ‘War on Drugs’. In the article, Sting explicitly mentions medical marijuana, and pointed out that those who are suffering from a variety of illnesses that could be effectively treated or eased by marijuana do not have access to it.

Obviously a lot has changed in the seven years since Sting wrote the article, and many across America can now legally access MMJ, but his point still stands; if it is an effective treatment for specific conditions, shouldn’t everyone who’s suffering be able to avail of it if they choose?

So it’s clear to see that music and marijuana remain steadfastly aligned in 2017. Hopefully we will see more and more musicians supporting the cause of MMJ as the medicine is embraced in states across the country.

3 MMJ Policies New York Needs to Change to Take on California

There has always been a rivalry between the east coast and the west; whether it’s sport, politics or hip hop, New Yorkers are always determined to out battle Californians. In the arena of medical marijuana however, as it currently stands, there is one clear winner.

MMJ was legalized in California way back in the Compassionate Use Act of 1996; in this way, the Golden State was way ahead of the other 49 on the medical marijuana front. Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada followed Cali’s lead in 1998, and over the last twenty odd years, MMJ has been steadily legalized in 29 different states in the U.S.

One of the most recent states to take up the cause was, surprisingly, New York. The government in Albany only passed the required act in July 2014, following a lengthy debate in the state senate. This made them the 23rd state in the U.S. to legalize MMJ (a staggering statistic when you consider New York’s traditional liberal leanings).

Even more startling was the restrictiveness of the bill when it was finally unveiled to the NY public; despite passing with a landslide, it was in fact one of the most conservative in the whole country.

Cuomo has long since taken a staunch anti-marijuana position, and the Republicans in the Senate got a little weak in the knees at the prospect of MMJ legalization escalating rapidly to recreational legalization. The result was a bill that failed to cater to the basic needs of most patients across the state.

While the signs are good that this restrictiveness is set to change due to continued pressure and advocacy from support groups, it doesn’t change the fact that it puts New York light years behind California when it comes to MMJ law.

With that in mind, here are three major policies from Cuomo’s bill that need to change if New York wants to draw even or surpass the Golden State.

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Since smoking is the most effective way to consume MMJ, New York needs to legalize smoking medical marijuana to be as forward-thinking as California.

1. Introduce Smoking

As patients in California know, smoking marijuana is the most effective form of consuming the drug, and the most potent method of treatment for  a myriad of conditions that MMJ can ease. Bizarrely, this was the one form of consumption that was left out of Cuomo’s bill – presumably because it is the form most associated with recreational use.

In a effort to distance himself from the thorny issue of recreational legalization, Cuomo insisted on a smoking ban. New York patients can instead consume the drug in the form of extracts, tinctures, oils and edibles.

Meanwhile, over on the west coast, smoking is far and away the most common form of consumption for patients. By limiting the use of MMJ, New York established itself as one of the most restrictive medical marijuana states in the country. This needs to change and change fast if they’re hoping to consider themselves a forward-thinking, progressive home for MMJ.

2. Allow More Registered Organizations

Advocates for MMJ recently scored a big win when they got the qualifying treatment ‘chronic pain’ added to the New York bill. This crucial clause, which opens up the benefits of MMJ to a whole range of patients, was absent from the initial proposal.

The trouble is, the 2014 bill only contains provision for five Registered Organizations (ROs), which the state licenses to produce and distribute medical marijuana. Each RO can only operate a maximum of four dispensaries each, leaving a total of twenty dispensaries serving the entire state of New York.

With more patients signing up thanks to the ‘chronic pain’ addition, this startlingly limited number of dispensaries simply won’t be enough to cover all patients in the state. In stark contrast, California has no limit on the amount of dispensaries; New York should certainly look to the west coast for inspiration on this one.

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If New York really wants to help MMJ patients feel better, then the state needs to add more medical marijuana facilities.

3. Take the Power Away From the Governor

Under the Compassionate Care Act of 2014, Governor Cuomo and by extension the senate, have the power to quash medical marijuana if they feel it’s being abused. With a Republican-leaning politician like Cuomo, this could happen at anytime, leaving MMJ patients in New York with a big old sword of Damocles hanging over them.

If it was voted in fairly, then the law belongs to the people; the power to take it away shouldn’t be in the hands of one man. Instead of this regressive clause, both Republicans and Democrats should look to compromise and keep in mind the best interests of the people.

Since last November, when California followed Colorado’s lead and legalized recreational marijuana, the debate has been all about the legality of marijuana in general; having New York all paranoid about medical marijuana, which has been embraced by 29 states and proven to be effective for sufferers of a whole range of conditions, seems extremely regressive and archaic.

Why New York MMJ Patients Will Need a Medical Marijuana Card After 2018

Compared to its sister on the west coast, New York is surprisingly conservative when it comes to medical marijuana. Since 1996, the Golden State has allowed people with a range of illnesses and conditions access to this miracle drug, and it has improved countless lives since then.

However, New York has only legalized medical marijuana in 2014, and the conditions that you must meet to qualify are long and strict. Coming into 2018, there are several things that you’ll need to know if you’re a New Yorker who wants to use medical marijuana.

Conditions for Medical Marijuana Use

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If you live in New York and want to use medical marijuana, make sure your condition is on the approved list set by the government.

Firstly, the list of conditions that render you eligible for MMJ is quite limited in New York. There are only certain ailments that qualify you to receive medical marijuana, and the laws are very strict in adhering to the recommendation of MMJ to them.

If you suffer from cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, spinal cord damage with intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, chronic pain, chronic nausea, severe muscle spasms, cachexia or Huntington’s Disease, you will be eligible for treatment with medical marijuana, but depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions are sadly not covered.

The good news is that, effective in 2017, medical professionals will be able to recommend treatment of medical marijuana to patients online, and they will not have to undergo an in-person consultation in order to receive their medical marijuana card. However, it is not the only documentation that you will need in order to receive an MMJ recommendation.

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Effective this year, medical professionals can recommend treatment of MMJ to patients online.

As well as the recommendation from a healthcare professional, you will need to gather your medical records, outlining that you suffer from one of the approved conditions for treatment by medical marijuana. You then have to submit these documents, along with proof that you are a resident of the state of New York, to the state authority. Then you will receive your medical marijuana card, which will allow you access to state dispensaries.

Another thing to remember when applying for a medical marijuana card in New York is that your medical professional will have to recommend the strain for your treatment and you will only be able to buy this specific strain. This eliminates any chance for experimentation with different treatment types and forms.

It is very important to have a clear and honest discussion with the medical professional who is carrying out your consultation so that they can decide what is the best course of treatment for you.

All About MMJ Laws in New York

Since bringing in its laws in 2014, New York is slowly but surely relaxing them. Certain conditions have been added since the laws were brought in and there is no limitation on the potential of conditions that can be added. This is at the discretion of the state governor, so depending on the politics of upcoming politicians, more conditions may be added to assist citizens of New York.

Campaigners are fighting for looser laws that will help more patients, but this will take time and is dependent on sympathetic legislators taking medical marijuana seriously as a legitimate treatment for numerous ailments.

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Dispensaries in New York, which are limited in numbers, can only dispense certain forms of medical marijuana to patients.

Laws regarding dispensaries in New York are also very strict. Dispensaries can only dispense certain forms of medical marijuana to patients depending on their recommendations, and there is a limit on the amount of dispensaries that can be operated by the same owner. Dispensaries must also be fully registered with the state and will undergo regular inspections to ensure that they are operating to the full letter of the law.

It is also very important to remember that the personal cultivation of medical marijuana is still illegal, despite medical marijuana being legal. If you are able to access medical marijuana in New York, you are still unable to grow it for yourself. All MMJ must be accessed and purchased through a state-sanctioned dispensary through the form recommended for you by a medical professional. You will be liable for legal consequences if you grow your own medical marijuana.

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As more people become educated about the benefits of medical marijuana, more states will start to legalize it.

While these limitations are frustrating, especially given the much more liberal laws in other states, the future is likely to be easier for medical marijuana patients. As stigma is reduced and the world at large becomes more educated about the benefits of MMJ, legislation will follow.

The public are mostly sympathetic to patients being treated with medical marijuana and the stereotype of stoners trying to circumvent the legal system is slowly but surely being demolished. The best thing to do if you live in New York is to live to the letter of the law, carry on taking your medication as advised, and hopefully as time goes on and the law is relaxed, everyone who needs treatment with MMJ will be allowed to access it in New York.

What California MMJ Patients Think of New York’s New Medical Cannabis Legislation

Twenty nine states across the U.S. have now legalized medical marijuana, although the strictures of each respective legislation differ wildly. Although MMJ has been legal in at least one state in America since 1996, it still remains a contentious topic among local governments – a contention which becomes apparent with even a cursory glance at the various bills and acts which inform the legality of the medicine across the country. In fact, you don’t even have to look at all the bills; you can look at just two, a comparison which comprises the opposite coasts of the country.

California have always been way ahead of the curve when it comes to medical marijuana. They were the first state to introduce MMJ, way back in 1996, and their loose, liberal approach has informed the way many states approach the controversial subject. It took a further two years for any other state to get MMJ legislature through their respective senates.

Though it wasn’t the first state to introduce recreational marijuana (that was Colorado and Washington simultaneously in 2012), Cali has long been seen as a marijuana advocate stronghold, and followed through with their recreational legalization in November 2016, concurrent with the U.S. presidential election.

Californians Have a Leg Up When It Comes to MMJ

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One benefit Californians have over New Yorkers when it comes to medical cannabis: patients aren’t required to get a state ID card or an MMJ card.

MMJ patients in California have it pretty good. Their 1996 bill, Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, still holds up in 2017, despite some vague wording at the time of its issue. There are a whole host of qualifying conditions, not just serious ones, and the list includes the all-important qualifier ‘chronic pain’, which covers many different forms of debilitation, without needing the doctors to diagnose a specific illness before prescribing.

In fact, the law goes one step further, and qualifies any debilitating illness where the use of MMJ has been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician”. This gives doctors a lot of free rein to prescribe to their patients, without worrying if their treatment plan is in danger of breaking state law.

There are also no possession limits specified by Prop. 215, and home cultivation of the medicine is permitted. However, patients could find themselves in hot water if they grew amounts of marijuana that were obviously excessive to their needs; to clear up this situation, the government added an amendment to the original bill in 2016, which declared that a patient may cultivate up to 100 square feet of marijuana, while primary caregivers with five or fewer patients can cultivate up to 500 square feet.

Most importantly, patients in California are not required to get a state ID card or a MMJ card. They’re both optional, but residents of the state can avail of medical marijuana freely without either of them.

Medical Cannabis Laws in New York

All that freedom stands in stark contrast to New York’s take on the matter of MMJ. Californian patients would think that NY’s legislation was extremely conservative; and they’d be right. The usually-liberal leaning New York shocked MMJ advocates up and down the country in 2014, when it introduced one of the most restrictive medical marijuana bills in the U.S. Initially, it was seen as an extremely conservative step, but a necessary one, given that New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been vocally anti-marijuana (in any form) in the past. Looking at the legislature, it reads almost opposite to California’s bill of eighteen years previous, although of course, they are broadly the same piece of law.

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New York’s medical marijuana legislation is pretty much the exact opposite of California’s 1996 MMJ bill.

Initially, New York had a small list of severe diseases under its qualifying conditions. These included cancer, AIDS, ALS, MS and Parkinson’s, although crucially did not include the all important ‘chronic pain’ clause that California’s law has. Since last year, after pressure from MMJ advocates, this has since been rectified, and ‘chronic pain’ is now a fully fledged, MMJ-legal condition in New York.

A second part of the bill that shocked Californians, and has yet to be rectified, is the prohibition on smoking the medicine. Smoking has long been known as the most potent and effect method to consume marijuana; when it comes to medical cases, it’s important that patients give the medicine the best chance it can to work. Unfortunately, under Governor Cuomo, smoking MMJ was considered too much of a risk, and not included in the bill.

Other restricting factors include absolutely no cultivation permitted, and a limit on how many dispensaries can operate in the state at a time (only twenty). This again is in stark contrast to the West Coast, where patients could be sure of picking up their medicine locally and easily.

Looking to New York, patients in California would be shocked to learn that there is only one dispensary for every 27,000 square kilometers of the state. This makes access hard, and also crucially makes it more troublesome for critically ill patients to get the treatment they need.

Although things are changing in New York, they’re still a long way off the liberal leanings of California’s law. Observing the happenings on the East Coast, MMJ patients in Cali are no doubt thanking their lucky stars that they live where they do; conversely, NY patients have got a fight on their hands to bring their legislature up to California’s gold standard.

Is New York Going to Overtake California as the Leading MMJ State?

As legal medical marijuana becomes more and more widespread in the United States, the particular ways each state is handling the introduction of the medicine are slowly becoming apparent. There are currently 29 legal MMJ states in the country, across the country from California to New York, and all of them approach the subject a little differently to the last.

While advocates continue to fight the good fight to get the medicine legalized in all 50 states, it’s going to be a long road; so it can be instructive to take a look at how the respective programs of the legalized states have shaped up so far.

California: A Trailblazer for Medical Cannabis

The trailblazer state for MMJ is undoubtedly California, who legalized the drug over twenty years ago in 1996. Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Care Act, passed by a narrow 55%, and allowed people suffering from cancer, AIDS, arthritis and other chronic ailments the avail of medical marijuana.

Although the proposition was criticized at the time for its vague wording, it was hailed as a major breakthrough by the medical profession, who could now legally recommend MMJ to their patients. From then, California has gone from strength to strength, and has become the guiding beacon for the legalization of both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

California has long been seen as a leading liberal state, as has its counterpart on the opposite coast, New York. America’s largest city has a long history of liberal leanings, and most expected them to carry through with the advent of MMJ. However, that was surprisingly not the case.

New York vs. California MMJ Laws

Quite the opposite occurred actually; when New York finally legalized medical marijuana in 2014, a full eighteen years after California, it was in the form of a shockingly restrictive and conservative bill. One of the sticking points of the new legislation came from Governor Andrew Cuomo, a long-standing anti-marijuana advocate, who insisted that the medicine should not be legalized in smokable form.

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California allows medical marijuana to be taken in any form, which is vastly different to the MMJ laws in New York.

This greatly limits the potency of MMJ, which is most effective and fast-acting when smoked. In addition, only a small number of diseases, many of them severe, would qualify a patient for MMJ treatment in New York; the 2014 bill didn’t include the blanker term ‘chronic pain’, which critically limits both who doctors can prescribe to, and on what grounds.

In fact, New York doctors themselves had to think very carefully before prescribing the drug. If they were found to be working outside the tight parameters of Cuomo’s bill, they could find themselves breaking federal law.

As it stood upon introduction, New York’s MMJ laws stood in stark contrast to California’s liberal leanings. California allows medical marijuana to be taken in any form, and also includes a wide range of qualifying conditions, which sharply outguns New York’s restrictive measures.

Medical Marijuana Laws: Times They are a Changin’

Things have been changing recently though, and advocates in New York have been applying pressure in order to loosen the conservative bill. These changes, however, bring it nowhere near California’s MMJ legacy; and the problem starts with supply and demand.

It’s hard to walk down any given street in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or indeed any major Californian city, without happening across an MMJ dispensary. Over twenty years of legal medical marijuana have given California an unprecedented head start in terms of cultivation, and the industry continues to go from strength to strength.

Over on the East coast however, things are a little different. Currently, New York’s 2014 bill only allows for five cultivation companies to legally operate in the state, with a maximum of twenty dispensaries (or one every 2,700km). This was initially crippling to the growth of MMJ; though the Department of Health has since recognized its limitations, and doubled the amount of cultivation companies to ten, in a bill passed late last year.

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One good piece of news is that as of March this year, chronic pain was added as a qualifying ailment for MMJ in New York.

There are also continuing and persistent calls for changing the qualifying conditions in New York, some of which have not gone unheeded. As of March this year, chronic pain was added as a qualifying ailment, after it was announced in December 2016. This opens up a whole new world for medical marijuana in New York, making it accessible for many more people for whom it could prove a major benefit. Despite the early aggressiveness of the 2014 bill, signs are good that the Department of Health are loosening their reins and are looking to put New York on the MMJ map.

However, these new measures simply don’t measure up to California’s lax legislation. In fact, the Sunshine State has gone one step further and legalized recreational marijuana, another bold step in the slowly but surely progressing acceptance of the drug. Although it’s making bold strides, and is certainly heading in there right direction, New York still has a long way to go to make up the ground gained by California.

Until NY, the supposed liberal bastion of the Eastern seaboard, severely loosens its laws, Cali will remain the king of MMJ states. But who knows what the lay of the land will look like five years from now. Until then, patients will on both sides of the country will have to continue fighting the good fight, and advocating the plethora of benefits MMJ provides.

Why New Yorkers are Waking Up to the Benefits of Medical Marijuana

By the time the Empire State legalized medical marijuana back in 2014, New Yorkers had already been acutely aware of its many benefits. Not only had they been inundated with news from other cannabis card states, but they had also been witness to countless legalization rallies, all of which spread the good message of this wonder drug.

Now that New Yorkers are three years into their own MMJ card program, they’re more aware than ever of just how great the plant really is.

The Reputation of MMJ

Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case. Unlike other medications, medical marijuana has been the subject of a decades-long smear campaign. For eons, MMJ had been synonymous with thuggery, addiction and abuse, all thanks to the proliferation of lies and misinformation about the plant.

This campaign reached a head with the ‘War on Drugs’, spearheaded by Richard Nixon in the 1970s, who dubbed drug abuse “public enemy number one”. The lies that spread during this time had long-lasting effects on the status of medical marijuana in society. Any inkling of legalization that was on the horizon was instantly dashed, and left in a smoldering pile on the floor of the legislator’s office.

As this reputation started to subside, more people started to wake up to the massive benefits that medical marijuana could provide to millions of Americans lives. California was the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, with other states following suit over the next two decades.

As New Yorkers had seen more than 20 of their neighbors legalize MMJ before them, they had become aware of the benefits of the plant. By the time medical marijuana cards were introduced to New York, most of the negative connotations associated with the drug had been debunked, and MMJ was now finally recognized as the wonder drug that it is.

Medical Cannabis: An Effective Alternative

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MMJ is an effective alternative to treating serious illnesses with side effects like anxiety and depression.

Medical marijuana is being used statewide by New Yorkers as an effective, gentle alternative to traditional modern medicines. The medication that is often prescribed for MMJ compatible conditions can be incredibly harsh on the body. Side effects exhibited from the use of hard medications can include depression, anxiety, extreme nausea, tiredness and chronic headaches. While it would be foolish to say that medical marijuana could be completely substituted for any medication, for some less serious illnesses, this is possible.

Patients who are on vital modern medications can also opt to consume medical marijuana as a way of combating the side effects of these medications. A total substitution of a treatment plan cannot always be done, but using the two medications concurrently with one another can be a match made in heaven. Medical marijuana has long been observed to effectively treat typical side effects from harsh medication like stomach pain, muscle spasms and lethargy.

As chronic pain was recently added to the list of qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card, New Yorkers are now becoming aware of just how effective a pain reliever it really is. Outside of New York, pain relief is the number one reason that patients apply for an MMJ card. Medical marijuana tackles pain by boosting the endocannabinoids within the body. Furthermore, the THC present in MMJ is an extremely potent pain reliever and when twinned with CBD it works twice as well.

Not only is medical marijuana an excellent pain reliever, it is also effective at tackling the symptoms of a large number of diseases. The severity of the disease is unimportant in this effectiveness, as shown by the fact that you can only get a medical marijuana card for a life-threatening illness in New York. MMJ is thorough at treating associative symptoms such as muscle spasms, seizures and depression, meaning that patients are relieved of the more disruptive aspects of their illness.

Recent Medical Marijuana Legislation

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Instead of money going into the hands of criminals, MMJ legalization is making New York a much safer state.

Medical Marijuana legislation is big business for the state itself. Recently, California raked in a massive 2.7 billion in marijuana sales across the state – yes, that’s a ‘b’ not an ‘m’! Although the average medical marijuana card holder wouldn’t care much about the massive market this is creating, MMJ sales contribute to the revenue of the state, meaning that it has more money to spend on roads, schools and hospitals. As money is going to the state that once went straight into the hands of criminals, MMJ legalization is making New York communities safer as drug dealers are forced off the streets.

If New York is to rubber stamp the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act that is currently being tabled by legislators, we’ll see even more of a boom in state revenue. This act will essentially legalize all uses of marijuana, regulating it in the same way that alcohol currently is. The market boost that this would bring is a serious motivator for New York state legislators to further the total decriminalization of marijuana.

New York – like the rest of the world – has finally woken up to the wonderful benefits of medical marijuana. As full legalization starts to spread across America, MMJ acceptance will become commonplace, and New York medical marijuana card holders will reap the benefits. Once New York sees the total decriminalization of marijuana, we can realistically expect all the other states to follow suit soon after.

 

Why New York Medical Marijuana Laws Are Stricter Than in California

Why would anyone choose to leave sunny California? The weather is amazing, the people are chill and most importantly, the medical marijuana laws are pretty relaxed.

The Golden State was the first to bring MMJ laws onto its books. While many states have followed suit, not many have as relaxed laws as California does. There is also a great rivalry between the east and west coasts, so how do Californian medical marijuana laws measure up to those in New York state?

MMJ Laws in New York and California

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The main difference between New York medical marijuana laws and California medical cannabis laws are the forms that are legal to consume.

The short answer is that New York has far stricter rules on medical marijuana than California. While California has had MMJ laws on the books since 1996, New York only brought in limited medical marijuana laws on 2014.

The main difference between MMJ in the states is the forms that are legal. In California, you can consume smoking cannabis, edibles, tinctures and pretty much any kind of medical marijuana. However, in New York, there are strict laws in place relating to what can be consumed. Patients may only consume MMJ via oils or sprays to be vaporized or consumed orally. Edibles and cannabis cigarettes are still strictly illegal.

You are also not permitted to grow medical marijuana for your own use, whereas this is permitted in California. This can present issues for patients who experience the best results from cannabis cigarettes or edibles, as opposed to tinctures, oils or vapes.

Medical marijuana benefits different people in different ways, and the forms that you consume them in can often have differing effects. It’s unfortunate that New York state cannot cater to all of its medical marijuana patients, some of which live with chronic and unmanageable pain, but a broader law may come into effect with continued campaigning.

Obtaining Medical Marijuana in New York and California

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In California, the process of obtaining an MMJ card is much easier than obtaining one in New York.

The ways in which you obtain a medical marijuana card in both states are also slightly different. In California, you can visit a medical marijuana professional for an in-person or online consultation. They will ask you the nature of your condition and prescribe medical cannabis to you based on your needs. You then receive your MMJ card and go to your dispensary to pick the form and strain of medical marijuana you need.

In New York, things are far stricter. Patients must suffer from a specified condition that appears on a list that has been ratified by the Commissioner. These conditions include Alzheimer’s Disease, chronic pain (which is very strictly defined) HIV/AIDS, cancer or epilepsy. This means that you need to fit very strict medical criteria before you can even consider seeking a medical marijuana card.

After you have deemed yourself suitable for medical marijuana treatment, you have to visit a registered medical marijuana practitioner. All medical marijuana practitioners must be registered with New York State and noted on a public register. When you visit an MMJ practitioner in New York, they will also decide the appropriate dosage and strain for you, as well as the form you consume it in.

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When you visit an MMJ practitioner in California, you get to decide your appropriate dosage and strain.

In California, that decision is left up to the patient. For example, you can go to a medical marijuana practitioner in New York State, who will decide you need a certain strain, in a certain amount to be administered and consumed in a certain form. You then bring the “prescription” to a dispensary, who can only give you the medical cannabis that the registered practitioner has decided is most appropriate for you.

As medical marijuana practitioners must register with the state, so too must patients. When you receive your MMJ certificate from your practitioner, you must register as a medical marijuana patient online. You will then be sent a card, which will allow you to receive your treatment. You cannot receive any treatment without your identification card.

Dispensaries in New York are also required to be fully registered and can only carry pre-approved products that can be designated to patients. While there is a wide variety of ways to take medical marijuana in California, practitioners in New York are only allowed to certify patients to take certain types and brands, with varying rates of THC and CBD.

As you can see, the measures in New York are far stricter than those in California, and this mostly just comes down to stigma. In California, MMJ has been around for over twenty years, and most citizens are comfortable with the concept, as it has changed so many lives for the better. New York is still coming around to the idea, and is being incredibly strict so as not to be seen to be condoning recreational drug use.

Hopefully, with time, New York will be able to relax its incredibly strict MMJ laws and allow more people access to a lifeline that has changed people from being in so much pain that they cannot function, to being functional members of society.

 

California vs New York: Which State is Best for Medical Cannabis?

Now that the medical marijuana card revolution has spread to New York, it can be easy to compare and contrast its laws to those in other states. While it’s not fair to compare MMJ card states with marijuana gold standard states – we’re looking at you, Colorado – comparing MMJ-friendly states against each other gives us a better picture of which state is best to live in if you’re a cannabis card holder.

California was a trailblazer in the legalization of medical marijuana with the introduction of Proposition 215 all the way back in 1996. For this reason, MMJ laws in the Sunshine State are some of the best in the country, leaving other MMJ states in its shadow.

Unfortunately for New York MMJ card carriers, the liberal bastion of the eastern seaboard just hasn’t caught up to California’s super lax laws. In fairness to them, they only legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2014, so we can’t exactly hold them to California’s standard, which has been over 20 years in the making.

Qualifying Ailments for MMJ

The biggest area where Californian cannabis laws outshine New York’s is by their classification of qualifying ailments. In California, there is a broad lists of qualifying conditions that allow you to apply for a medical marijuana card. This includes anything from menstrual cramps and anxiety, to cancer and everything in between. Thanks to this, anyone in need of the ameliorative effects of cannabis can access it.

New York’s list of qualifying conditions is significantly smaller, and comes with specific stipulations. To get a medical marijuana card in New York, you must suffer from a life-threatening illness. According to the medical marijuana program, this is limited to cancerHIV, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal damage, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease and chronic pain.

In addition to these limitations, your condition must present you with life-limiting symptoms in order to qualify for an MMJ card. A doctor can not, and will not, prescribe you medical cannabis outside of these conditions due to the intense pressure put on them by the New York Medical Marijuana Program.

Cannabis Cultivation Laws in New York and California

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One downside for MMJ card holders in New York: it’s strictly banned in the state to grow cannabis at home.

Home cultivation is strictly banned in New York, with the state’s needs for cultivation limited to production by ten companies. This presents problems for cannabis card holders who prefer to home grow due to mobility issues.

California, by contrast, allows MMJ card carriers to grow six mature plants or 12 immature plants at home once they have the required growers license. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, there doesn’t seem to be any plans on the horizon to ease home growing laws.

Consumption Laws for Medical Marijuana

Noticeably, you won’t see any medical marijuana card holders smoking MMJ in New York, as smoking the plant is strictly illegal. Governor Cuomo never gave a real explanation as to why this is, with many people speculating that he wanted to distance his MMJ program from methods of consumption that would typically be associated with recreational use. While this isn’t a major problem for most cannabis card carriers – a lot of them would steer clear from smoking due to the obvious health effects. This can be a nuisance for the small few who prefer to smoke their MMJ.

Similarly, the consumption of medical marijuana edibles is banned in New York. Unlike smoking, a significant amount of MMJ card holders would consume this way. Using edibles has a whole host of benefits – and is tasty, to boot – so some patients were very disappointed with this law. Being the bastion of MMJ goodness that it is, Californian medical marijuana law allows both smoking and the consumption of edibles once you’re suitably discreet about it.

Getting a Cannabis Card in California and New York

Acquiring a cannabis card in California is a much easier process than it is in New York. In Cali, all you need to do is complete a short, noninvasive online consultation with a licensed mental health professional and voilà, you got yourself a California medical marijuana card! In New York, it takes a little bit longer to do.

MMJ Recs - NYC Traffic

Just like sitting in New York traffic can be a painfully long process, so can acquiring a New York MMJ card.

First, you must go to a doctor and tell them about your illness and your need for a medical marijuana card. 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 prescribe you MMJ, and you’ll be left feeling disappointed. If you have a qualifying ailment and they think you’re suitable for it, they’ll recommend you for medical marijuana certification.

Following this, you’ll have to register for your Registry ID Card. You do this by applying via the Department of Health’s Online Patient Registration System. Once your application is rigorously reviewed, you’ll be sent out your ID in the mail. You’ll need to bring this with you when you visit the MMJ dispensary in New York.

New York’s medical cannabis laws are only in their infancy, so it’s pretty understandable for them to be so far behind their western cousins on the MMJ front. Thankfully, further relaxations of New York’s MMJ laws are on the horizon, with the possibility of total legalization looking likely within the next five years – not bad for a state who only decriminalized MMJ three years ago!

Until then, New York can continue to look to California for inspiration on how to make their state more MMJ-friendly.

 

Will Medical Marijuana in New York Match California in Popularity?

The Californian medical marijuana card program is a shining beacon of MMJ best practice. Those who need to get an MMJ card can do so easily, and without many stipulations delaying the process. As Cali MMJ card holders face so little roadblocks in accessing marijuana, they’re rarely left unnecessarily suffering. This ease of access means that medical marijuana is naturally very popular in California.

California not only makes getting a medical marijuana card very easy, but it also has the infrastructure in place to deal with the high demand. Dispensaries are dotted generously throughout the state, meaning that regardless of where you are, you can easily acquire MMJ.

Unfortunately, not all states can mirror Cali’s wonderful MMJ laws. While New York has been making some concrete steps towards becoming more MMJ-friendly since its legalization in 2014, roadblocks still exist for medical marijuana card holders looking to acquire the plant.

Access to MMJ in New York

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Because many physicians in New York are reluctant to prescribe medical marijuana, people outside of Manhattan have a very tough time accessing it.

As New York’s medical marijuana laws are still in their infancy, doctors – especially doctors outside of the city – are unsure of how to toe the line in regards who they can and can’t prescribe MMJ to. For this reason, a lot of physicians around the state are very reluctant to prescribe MMJ, with most of them point blank refusing to prescribe it at all for fear that they’d lose their license. This means that medical marijuana card carriers living outside of Manhattan have a very tough time accessing MMJ.

A lot of prospective MMJ card holders simply cannot make hour-long trips to willing doctors due to the fact that they are oftentimes limited in their movements by their ailment. This unfortunate situation means that the popularity of medical marijuana in New York is dwarfed by that of California.

Medical Marijuana Ailments

In New York, the list of qualifying ailments deemed suitable for the medical marijuana program is much shorter than that of the Sunshine State. In most cases, you must have a life-threatening illness such as MS, AIDS or cancer in order to be considered for the program. This is further complicated by the fact that your illness must also present you with significant life-limiting symptoms like chronic pain or muscle spasms.

A huge number of Californians would have their medical marijuana card in order to treat ailments that are not deemed suitable in New York. Medical marijuana is used to treat all manner of illnesses in California like depression, anxiety, epilepsy and PTSD, and these generous laws are what give life to its popularity there.

Until New York loosens what it considers to be an allowable condition for MMJ treatment, the popularity of medical marijuana in the state will continue to dwindle.

New York vs California MMJ Laws

The banning of certain consumption methods is another thing attributed to the low popularity of medical marijuana in New York. There is a blanket ban on smoking MMJ across the entirety of the state. Most people attribute this to the fact that weed skeptic Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to distance New York’s medical marijuana laws from consumption methods that would typically be associated with recreational users, rather than users with MMJ cards.

For this same suspected reason, the consumption of medical marijuana edibles in New York is banned, too. While most MMJ card carriers could get over the smoking ban, banning edibles is a tougher pill to swallow. As ingesting your medical marijuana has tons of benefits, it is the consumption method of choice for a lot of cannabis card holders across the country. The outright ban of edibles has thusly negatively impacted upon the popularity of MMJ in New York.

A lot of the contributing factors as to why medical marijuana is so much less popular in New York than in California can easily be put down to the fact that New York’s medical marijuana laws are much younger than California’s – by a whopping 18 years! Having legalized MMJ all the way back in 1996, California weed legislation has gone through many evolutions, eventually giving rise to the super MMJ-friendly state we have today.

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Medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1996, making the Golden State a trailblazer for other MMJ-friendly states.

As weed has been a mainstay of Californian health law since the 90s, it’s more normalized there than it is in New York. Adding to that the fact that recently California announced that it would be legalizing the drug entirely, it’s no wonder that the popularity here outnumbers that of New York so starkly.

Recent New York Medical Marijuana Bills

Thankfully for New Yorkers, the Empire State is moving closer and closer to full legalization of marijuana every day. Recently, two bills were submitted by NY legislators that would potentially create regulations that would see marijuana being taxed and controlled in the same way that alcohol currently is. Not only would this create a huge influx of revenue for the state, but it would also mean that those caught in possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would face no criminal charges – way to go New York!

Eventually, medical marijuana will be just as popular in New York as it is in California. Until then, we’ve just gotta be happy that New York – like a lot of other states – is slowly but surely moving towards being much more MMJ-friendly.

Why Getting an MMJ Card in New York is Harder Than in California

It’s pretty safe to say that California medical marijuana card holders have it pretty easy. MMJ laws in the Sunshine State are famously lax, meaning that acquiring a cannabis card can be done in a few short minutes from the comfort of your own home. Soon, California’s marijuana laws will become even better when state wide legalization is introduced – way to go Cali!

Unfortunately, on the east coast, New York MMJ card carriers aren’t afforded the same weed friendly legislation. Since its legalization in 2014 by Andrew Cuomo, medical marijuana in New York hasn’t been easy to come by. Acquiring an MMJ card has been a legal minefield fraught with uncertainty. As a result, many people suffering from medical marijuana compatible illnesses have had to go without the miracle plant.

New York’s Case Against Medical Marijuana

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Governor Cuomo and his department don’t want the New York Medical Marijuana Program to be abused, so they’re making it very difficult to get a MMJ card.

The legislation of medical marijuana in New York came as a surprise to some as Governor Cuomo does not support the decriminalization of the plant. It is thought that the tough MMJ laws could be as a direct result of this. Although Cuomo does recognize the usefulness of medical marijuana as a form of treatment for certain illnesses, he is vehemently opposed to decriminalization, so it’s natural that he would want to keep MMJ laws as tough as possible to safeguard them from abuse.

Interestingly – and in spite of Cuomo’s beliefs – New York state lawmakers recently submitted two bills which could potentially pave the way for a state wide legalization of marijuana for recreational use. The bills – namely the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act – would create a system whereby marijuana would be taxed and regulated in the same way that alcohol is, creating a new market and providing millions of dollars in Revenue for the state.

Under this law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would be legal for people aged 18 and over, and people aged 21 and over could legally buy cannabis from state licensed dispensaries, regardless of whether they had an MMJ card or not.

Until total legalization is introduced, it’s unlikely that getting a medical marijuana card will become much easier. Cuomo and his department don’t want the New York Medical Marijuana Program to be abused and thus, make getting the card particularly difficult. While these conservative views are restricting access to the plant for those in need, they see this as a necessary evil to stop people who they think shouldn’t be consuming it.

New York’s MMJ Laws

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One thing that majorly irked medical marijuana card holders in New York: the state banned edibles.

New York’s stringent MMJ laws are none the more evident than in the fact that smoking medical marijuana is strictly forbidden within the state. While smoking is not the consumption method of choice for most MMJ card holders – due to the obvious detrimental health effects – for the few users who prefer to smoke, this is problematic.

Edibles are similarly banned in New York, which irked medical marijuana card holders further. When this news was announced, some cannabis card holders were at a loss as to why these strict rules regarding consumption methods were enforced. It’s likely that the New York MMJ Program wanted to distance itself from recreational cannabis use as much as possible, thus outlawing methods of consumption that are more typically associated recreational users.

Type of Conditions

In the same vein, the list of qualifying conditions that deem you suitable for a medical marijuana card is considerably shorter in New York than it is in California. By and large, to obtain an MMJ card in New York you must be suffering from a life-threatening illness such as HIV or cancer, and your ailment must present you with associative and complicating conditions like seizures or chronic pain.

Thankfully, these laws have become slightly more lax in recent times, as PTSD and chronic pain have been added to the list of qualifying conditions.

Access to a Licensed MMJ Physician

Due to the uncertainty of New York’s MMJ Laws, unless you live close to New York City, it can be hard to find you a doctor who will happily recommend you for a medical marijuana card. Prospective MMJ card applicants across the state have consistently been disappointed, as their own trusted physicians refuse to recommend them for the program should, they step out of line and potentially lose their practice.

The best way to overcome this problem is to apply for your medical marijuana card online. This way you can complete your consultation with a state licensed physician from the comfort of your own home, and have it posted out to you within a few short days.

Essentially, it’s harder to get an MMJ card in New York than in California because the New York Medical Marijuana Program is still in its infancy. California legalized medical marijuana all the way back in 1996 – nearly 20 years before New York – so it’s no wonder that Cali is more weed-friendly than the Empire State.

Thankfully, New York is catching up fast, and it looks likely that we’ll see the full legalization of marijuana within the next five years. Until then, if you need access to MMJ in New York, it’s prudent that you apply for you medical marijuana card online today!

Getting Your New York Medical Marijuana Card

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.

Qualifying Conditions

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.

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Chronic pain has been added to the list of medical conditions that qualify a patient for medical cannabis use in New York.

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.

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Even with your New York medical marijuana card, smoking medical 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.

The Ultimate Guide to Medical Cannabis in New York

New York joined the medical cannabis revolution Jan. 6, 2017, albeit quite tentatively. Its program is limited by very strict rules and regulations, with tight restrictions in every direction. Even in its tightly bound state, New York’s new MMJ program is, of course, better than nothing.

The list of medical conditions that qualify a patient to use medical cannabis in New York is much more limited than in other MMJ-friendly states. HIV and AIDS, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, spinal cord injury with spasticity, and chronic pain are the only conditions that qualify a patient for medical marijuana use. Additionally, the patient’s condition must include as a symptom either cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or persistent muscle spasms, nausea, seizures, or severe or chronic pain.

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The Department of Health is keeping an open mind about what conditions should qualify a patient for a New York medical marijuana card.

Chronic pain only became an eligible condition on March 22, 2017. This welcome addition makes it possible for a lot more people who suffer in the state to get a New York medical marijuana card. It also shows that the Department of Health is keeping an open mind about what conditions should qualify a patient.

Regarding the addition of chronic pain to the list, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker recently said: “Improving patient access to medical marijuana continues to be one of our top priorities, as it has been since the launch of the program. These key enhancements further that goal.”

Although chronic pain has been added to the list, it was recently announced that Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, post-traumatic stress disorder and rheumatoid arthritis would not make a patient eligible. Scientists at the Department of Health researched a slew of papers and decided that evidence was not yet sufficient that these conditions would be adequately helped by medical cannabis use. However, they said that they are willing to change their mind if new research suggests otherwise.

No Smoking Medical Cannabis Allowed

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Patients should be given more choice in how they ingest their medical cannabis in New York.

The methods of medical cannabis ingestion that are allowed are also very limited. Smoking and edibles are not permitted. Only capsules or liquids and oils that can be taken from a vaporizer or inhaler are allowed.

For a patient who wishes to avail of medical marijuana in New York, they must contact a medical practitioner who is registered with the New York Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. The practitioner must then decide whether medical cannabis is appropriate for the patient’s condition.

The practitioner then gives the patient a certificate. The certificate must state the authorized brand and form of medical marijuana, the administration method, and any limitations on the use of medical marijuana for that patient. If there is a recommended dosage this must also be stated on the cert, too.

Where to Buy Medical Marijuana in New York

Once the patient acquires a certificate, they must register with the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. This can be done through the department’s online Patient Registration System. Once the registration has been processed, the patient will receive a Registry Identification Card. This card enables the purchasing of medical marijuana products at registered dispensaries.

Dispensaries are located all over the state. See a list of New York MMJ dispensaries here. All dispensaries stock two state-mandated medical cannabis products: one with an equal THC-to-CBD ratio, and one with a low-THC-high-CBD ratio. Each dispensary also stocks a variety of other MMJ products with varying THC to CBD ratios. Prices and opening hours vary amongst dispensaries, and many offer home delivery services. A patient may purchase up to a 30-day supply of medical cannabis products at a time. A patient can buy their medical marijuana products from any dispensary in New York.

Patients with MMJ cards from other states may not use them to purchase medical marijuana in New York.

Unfortunately, home cultivation is not allowed.

A patient can have up to two caregivers. A caregiver must be over 21 and either a parent or guardian of the patient, a person designated by a parent or guardian, or a person approved by the Department of Health upon sufficient evidence that no suitable parent or guardian is available. A caregiver must also be a resident of New York and have a valid state driver’s license or state ID card. A caregiver must register with the Department of Health, and each caregiver may serve no more than five patients.

How to Improve the New York Medical Marijuana Program

So, the New York medical marijuana program is certainly far from perfect. It could be improved in many ways.

The list of qualifying conditions could be expanded to include various psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety and depression.

Patients could be given more choice in how they ingest their medical cannabis. For example, smokable and edible cannabis products could be introduced.

The option to cultivate organic herb at home would also be a welcome amendment to the current medical marijuana laws.

But even with all this room for improvement, it is still very encouraging to see New York’s fledgling MMJ program up and running. Improvements will surely come in time, but for now, good enough is good enough.

How to Get Your New York MMJ Card: 3 Easy Steps

In July 2014, New York became the 23rd state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana, following a ‘lengthy and emotional’ debate in the Senate. It ultimately saw the Compassionate Care Act bill being supported by a 49-10 Senate vote.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has made no secret of his staunch anti-marijuana stance in the past, signed the bill into law, opening an 18-month window for the New York Department of Health to come up with a viable and complicit MMJ program. The completed program was subsequently launched on January 7th.

While this was great news for suffering patients who were desperately awaiting the legalization of MMJ, the bill raised a few eyebrows due to it being one of the most restrictive in the country. For the usually forward-thinking New York, it was a concerning conservative move, and one that seemed regressive in the face of pioneering MMJ states like California and Colorado. Only five MMJ producers were licensed by the DOH, and only twenty dispensaries were permitted state-wide.

It was also pretty tough to get your hands on an all-important MMJ card, as the list of qualifying conditions was limited to severe illnesses like cancer, ALS, and Parkinson’s. This made doctors wary of prescribing MMJ; if the patient’s condition was seen as borderline or questionable, the doctor could be prosecuted for illegal distribution.

Thankfully, in the months that followed, leading up to the present, mid-2017, progress was made due to near constant campaigning from MMJ advocates. It is now much easier to secure an MMJ card in New York, as the blanket term ‘chronic pain‘ was added to the list of qualifying conditions. Obviously this has a medically broader reach and gives doctors more freedom in prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment plan.

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There are a few basic steps to follow before you get your New York MMJ card.

But there are a few hoops to jump through before you can access your medicine:

Step One

The first step in getting your MMJ state ID card, the all important key to the kingdom, is finding a certified medical practitioner who can recommend you medical marijuana as a remedy. Locating a doctor is quite simple in 2017; you can visit one in real life, or even avail of handy online caregivers, who will happily certify you legally for an MMJ card, as long as your condition meets the state’s requirements.

Once you have that, there’s a little bit more due process to get through; but fear not, you’re almost there.

Step Two

Once certified, you head on over to https://my.ny.gov/ and find the ‘Health Applications’ icon. Once there, locate the ‘Medical Marijuana Data Management System’ link to register yourself. Bear in mind, you will need an NY.gov account to set up your registration; if you don’t have this, it’s simple to create one, and you can follow the link from the MMJ registration page.

Another important thing to keep in mind during the registration process is that you’ll need to provide proof of identity and residency in New York state. An NY-issued driver’s license is pretty perfect for this as it works for both requirements, but if you don’t drive, you can still use a passport photo taken within the last thirty days, and an official document like a utility bill or government-issued letter sent to you within the last two months.

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An NY-issued driver’s license can be used to register for a MMJ card in New York.

The Compassionate Care Act states there is a $50 filing fee necessary for all applications, but the kind folks at the Department of Health are currently waiving that fee for all patients and caregivers. If you select the ‘Bill Me Later’ option during this stage, the fee will be waived and you’ll be relieved of this particular financial burden.

If your illness or condition incapacitates you, the next and final stage of the application process allows you to designate up to two caregivers who can collect your medicine for you. These caregivers have to be registered, and must bring their registration with them when collecting the MMJ, as well as their patient’s certifications.

Step Three

Once you’ve completed that step, the only thing left to do is sit back and wait for your ID card to be delivered to you!

After your card arrives, there are a few things to keep in mind as you begin benefiting from your medicine. One important point is that you must keep your MMJ ID card on you whenever you’re carrying medical marijuana, not just when you buy it at the dispensary. The safest bet is probably to keep it on you at all times, like you would a bank card. That way you’ll never be caught short if someone happens to question you on your MMJ.

Also, if you change addresses, or for some reason your name, you’ll need to notify Medical Marijuana Program as soon as possible so they can issue a new card.

MMJ is still finding its feet in New York, but the signs are good that things are changing for the better. As more conditions are added to the qualifying list and it gets easier for patients to benefit from medical marijuana, distribution and dispensaries across the state should grow and multiply, making MMJ available to all who require it.

7 Things a New York Medical Marijuana Patient Needs to Know

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed medical marijuana legalization into law in July 2014, he made New York the 23rd state to do so. Although this was most definitely a step in the right direction, New York’s medical marijuana laws are still among the strictest in the country, so it can be hard for medical marijuana card holders to keep up with what’s allowed and, more importantly, what’s not. For those of you who may not be au fait with the MMJ 411 in the Empire State, we’ve made a list of seven things that all New York medical marijuana patients need to know.

Acquiring Medical Marijuana in New York Takes a Few Steps

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If you are specifically interested in getting medical marijuana, it’s important that you choose a physician who is registered with the New York Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program.

The process of getting medical marijuana in New York isn’t quite as straightforward as it is elsewhere. The first step in doing so is going to your doctor to discuss with them the issue you think might qualify you for medical marijuana certification.

If you are specifically interested in getting MMJ to treat this ailment, it’s important that you choose a physician who is registered with the New York Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. This doctor will do an assessment of you and your illness, and if they think you are suitable for it, they will issue you with a medical marijuana certificate. After this, you need to register with the Department of Health’s online Patient Registration Program. This will get you your Registry Identification Card, which will enable you to acquire MMJ.

You Can Only Get Medical Marijuana at Registered Dispensaries

Once you have your Registry Identification Card, bring it to any one of the registered dispensaries that are dotted around the state to acquire your medical marijuana. It is important that you bring your certificate with you, too, or else you will be denied service. If you are acquiring MMJ as a caregiver, you must bring your caregiver’s registry identification and your patient’s certification. To find out where the nearest registered dispensary to you is, see this list.

New York Medical Marijuana Laws Are Much Stricter Than Elsewhere

Although any kind of legalization should be welcomed with open arms, New York’s medical marijuana laws are unfairly restrictive. Unlike California, in New York, you must be suffering from a life-threatening illness such as cancer, ALS, HIV or multiple sclerosis to receive medical marijuana certification. Even then, your ailment must have “associative or complicated conditions” such as chronic pain or persistent muscle spasms.

Additionally, some methods of medical marijuana consumption have been banned (more on that later), and you cannot deviate from the method of administration appointed to you by your doctor. When you’re at the dispensary, you can only acquire 30 days or less worth of medical marijuana. Unfortunately, unlike other states, you cannot grow your medical marijuana at home.

Different MMJ Strains Help Different Ailments

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to marijuana strains. Every strain is different, and different strains relieve different ailments differently. Choosing the right strain of medical marijuana to use to treat your ailment is a vitally important part of the treatment process, and you and your doctor should put a lot of consideration into it. Although this can be a long and boring process, it’s well worth the benefits you’ll be reaping once you find the right one. For more information on what strains are best to tackle different types of pain, check out our blog post on the topic.

You Cannot Smoke Medical Marijuana in New York

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Medical marijuana card holders are safe in the knowledge that they have access — albeit restricted access — to the plant that brings them so much relief.

Unlike other states that have legalized the use of the plant, New York has banned all smoking of medical marijuana. This bizarre news came as a surprise to just about everyone who had been campaigning for legalization. Although smoking is not often the preferred method of consumption for medical marijuana card holders — due to the obvious detrimental health effects — it is still annoying for those who are most comfortable consuming this way.

Medical marijuana card holders are still somewhat at a loss as to why exactly this strange rule was brought in with many speculating that it could be because smoking marijuana is typically more associated with its recreational use rather than its medical use. Although this is likely to change eventually, until then, medical marijuana card holders are strictly advised to stick to other methods of consumption.

There Are Several Ways You Can Consume Medical Marijuana

Unfortunately, the New York restrictions on medical cannabis don’t just disallow smoking, but the use of MMJ edibles to treat your ailment is also prohibited. Although this does limit medical marijuana card holders somewhat when it comes to how they can consume, there are still other options available.

The main method of consumption that New York medical marijuana laws allow is the use of liquids or oils for vaporization or inhalation. Vaporization — or vaping as it is more commonly known — is a very popular method of consumption even outside of New York. With vaping, you use a vape pen which heats up your MMJ and creates a cloud from it that you then inhale. Vaping doesn’t overheat cannabis, which means that you’re benefiting from every one of those all-important cannabinoids, which would be destroyed by other methods such as smoking. Alternatively, you could inhale the MMJ liquid using a purpose-built inhaler, which can be easily obtained at a dispensary.

New York medical marijuana laws also allow for the use of MMJ capsules, which can be taken orally. This is a great option for those medical marijuana card holders who might not be comfortable with inhaling MMJ.

You Can Consume Medical Marijuana Anywhere in New York

Like in other states, the key to the consumption of medical marijuana in New York is discretion. Although you may be completely within the realms of the medical marijuana laws by consuming in an obvious manner, this won’t be taken well by the local authorities, and you could find yourself in a spot of a bother anyway.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, make sure you’re always discreet. Consuming discreetly is pretty easy to do in New York as the only methods of medical marijuana consumption allowed here are discreet ones. Most vapes come with a scent to mask the weed smell from vaporizers so those around you while you’re using will be none the wiser.

Although New York is slightly more restrictive than other states when it comes to their medical marijuana laws, as the world becomes more marijuana friendly, these laws will become laxer. Whether we’ll eventually see full recreational legalization, we won’t know for a while, but for now, at least medical marijuana card holders are safe in the knowledge that they have access — albeit restricted access — to the plant that brings them so much relief.

How and Why the State of New York Legalized Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been legal in the U.S. since 1996 — if you live in California that is. For other states, it’s been an uphill battle to legalize medical cannabis, and for some, the battle rages on. As of May 2017, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, and several others allow the use of marijuana in its oil form, with limitations on THC content (i.e., the psychoactive component of the drug).

Even where medical cannabis is legalized, the medical marijuana laws regarding its use vary wildly from state to state. The legalization of marijuana for recreational use is also shifting rapidly across the U.S., muddying the waters on medical marijuana laws and marijuana usage as a whole.

Although California is leading the charge on both fronts, especially when it comes to medical marijuana, over on the East Coast, the traditionally liberal and progressive New York has put in place a surprisingly restrictive and limited medical cannabis program. The state became the 23rd in the U.S. to embrace medical marijuana when it was made legal in mid-2014 under an act known as the Compassionate Care Act, signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At the beginning of his tenure, Cuomo announced plans to introduce medical marijuana legally to the state but was also noted and criticized for his long-held anti-marijuana position. Although Cuomo stated he was receptive to change on the medical marijuana front and approached the subject with an open mind, many feared that his medical marijuana laws would be too strict.

Medical Marijuana Laws in New York

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The state became the 23rd in the U.S. to embrace medical marijuana when it was made legal in mid-2014 under an act known as the Compassionate Care Act, signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

These fears turned out to be well-founded upon the introduction of the CCA, which contained a critical clause that allows the New York Department of health to pull the plug on the medical marijuana program any time it chooses.

The list of qualifying conditions is also fairly short compared to other states, with only severe illnesses entitling patients to medical cannabis. On top of this, doctors can be punished under federal law for suppling marijuana to a patient who doesn’t fit the required conditions.

The narrow qualifying conditions include cancer, ALS and other motor neuron diseases, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. This means that only around 10 percent of patients who could benefit from marijuana can actually legally avail of it, which is seen by many as far too restrictive.

The number of dispensaries allowed statewide is also pretty narrow, with only up to 20 dispensaries being grated licenses and only five manufacturers being granted the permission to grow marijuana. For as state composed of just under 20 million people, this seems relatively minuscule to medical marijuana advocates.

No Smoking Medical Cannabis in New York

Another measure that is seen as overly harsh, particularly when compared to other states, is the decision to forbid the smoking of medical marijuana, the most traditional method of taking the medicine. This is regarded as another attempt to appear anti-marijuana by the overly conservative Cuomo.

But it considerably limits patients’ methods and ease with which to avail of their medicine. As it stands, patients are only allowed to consume medical marijuana through vaporization, oils, foods and pills, which is, unfortunately, not the cheapest ways to consume the drug — or the most effective.

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In New York, you can’t legally smoke medical marijuana.

Smoking marijuana has traditionally been held as the quickest way to avail of the drug’s effects. When it comes to chronic and severe pain relief, most patients will want their medicine to work as quick as possible, forcing them to illegally smoke it or purchase a vaporizer, costing them hundreds of dollars on top of the amount they’ve already paid for the medicine. Cuomo and his supporters argued that smoking is not in the interest of public health, but this particular decree is seen by many as yet another attempt by Cuomo to straddle the line.

Just before the bill’s introduction in 2014, the governor spoke about the upcoming legislation.

“We’re going to be sending up a bill shortly that we believes strikes the right balance,” he said.

It was the result of near-constant pressure from medical marijuana advocates, lead by Sen. Diane Savino, the Senate sponsor of the bill, and Assembly sponsor Richard Gottfried. Assemblyman Gottfried admitted the bill was a compromise and also expressed concerns about the projected 18-month implication, concerns which turned out to be largely unfounded as the program got up and running on schedule.

It was a thorny path to medical marijuana legalization in New York, but now that it’s here, hopefully, things can continue to improve. There are certainly signs of it, with advocates campaigning for new conditions to be added to the list of qualifiers. Just recently post-traumatic stress disorder was accepted on the list, expanding some horizons in that sense. At the end of last year, the state Department of Health announced that it will be lifting and revising growth limits due to increased pressure from advocates and patients alike. All in all, things look good for the future of medical marijuana in New York.

The Legality of Medical Marijuana in New York Explained

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

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New York holds much stricter medical marijuana laws, especially with regards to the qualifying diseases and the form of medicine allowed.

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

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There are currently less than 1,000 qualified doctors in the city who can prescribe medical marijuana.

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.

4 Best New York Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana became legal in the state of New York in mid-2014, though it took another 18 months for it to become available to patients. Many were surprised with the restrictions and the seemingly harsh limitations of the Compassionate Care Act. The conservative Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to please advocates and opponents of medical cannabis by making an accessible yet restrictive law.

One of the major contentions was the non-smoking aspect, which means medical marijuana in New York can only be consumed via vaporization, ingestion or in capsule form. Another limiting factor of the Compassionate Care Act was the number of places legalized to dispense the drug, which totals no more than 20 statewide.

Currently, there are 19 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in New York, with recent changes to the Compassionate Care Act suggesting that this number will increase over the coming years. In order to sustain more medical marijuana dispensaries, however, Cuomo will also need to implement some relaxations on qualifying conditions. But that’s a discussion for another time.

If you’re a New York patient in need of medical cannabis right now, then here’s a handy rundown of the top four places to pick up your medical marijuana prescription.

Etain Health

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Etain Health operates four medical marijuana dispensaries in New York

Etain Health is one of only five licensed manufacturers of medical marijuana in New York and continues its family-run ethic throughout its statewide medical marijuana dispensaries. Owned and operated by the woman-led Peckham family, Etain Health was founded after the Peckham matriarch was diagnosed with ALS, leading the family on the path to compassionate care. Etain Health operates four medical marijuana dispensaries — one in Albany, one in Kingston, one in Syracuse and one in Yonkers — and is committed to improving the quality of life for patients across New York with high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade marijuana.

Columbia Care New York

Another big hitter in the dispensary field, Columbia Care New York operates four medical marijuana dispensaries statewide. They can be found in New York City, Riverhead, Plattsburgh and Rochester. In April, after wading through a strenuous and prolonged permission process, Columbia Care became the first dispensary in the state to start running a delivery service for their patients. It is committed to making its patients’ lives easier and more comfortable and will no doubt be a key component of the future of medical marijuana in New York.

NYC Marijuana Dr.

NYC Marijuana Dr. is led by Dr. George Moskowitz, a board-certified family physician with more than 30 years experience under his belt. He is a registered practitioner with the Department of Health and can certify a potential patient into the compulsory New York Medical Marijuana Program. The steps include an initial visit with Moskowitz to determine patient viability, and then, if successful, a follow-up visit where the patient will receive their MMJ certificate. Moskowitz is located in New York City, with a Manhattan branch opening up soon.

Vireo Health

Latin for “I am green; I am vigourous,” Vireo Health is a collection of scientists and physicians who have dedicated themselves to the cause of high-quality, highly effective cannabis-based medication. Unlike the previous three medical marijuana dispensaries, Vireo is funded and run by a broad investor base of health care professionals, allowing it to focus on the people who matter most — their patients. Having already established outlets in Maryland and Minnesota, it recently opened a branch in New York. Its mission is simple: produce and distribute pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to patients in need.

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As the fight to legalize medical cannabis for every patient who needs it rages on in New York, more medical marijuana dispensaries should indeed come to the fore.

Those are the top four in New York.

As a little bonus, here’s a popular dispensary from the state’s closest neighbor!

Garden State Dispensary

Not technically located in New York, Garden State is a dispensary in New Jersey, just across the George Washington Bridge. New Jersey’s medical cannabis laws are laxer more lax compared to its neighbor’s strict decrees: Patients in New Jersey can smoke the medicine, as opposed to patients in New York who can only vaporize or consume medical marijuana in oil or edible form. So, if you happen to live across the bridge, you’re in a far better position to consume your medical marijuana than New York residents. Garden State Dispensary is a cool port of call for those looking to pick up their medicine, styling itself almost like an upmarket cocktail bar. They also grow their own medical marijuana, so you can count on their produce being fresh and leafy.

As it stands, because of the harsh laws, options for medical marijuana in New York are pretty scarce. But then again, so are the patients. New York’s list of applicable diseases and afflictions are so narrow and restrictive that there simply aren’t enough patients to render medical marijuana dispensaries profitable and worthwhile.

As the fight to legalize medical cannabis for every patient who needs it rages on in New York, more medical marijuana dispensaries should indeed come to the fore, providing more options and consuming methods for patients across the state.

An Empire State of Mind: Medical Marijuana in New York

Medical marijuana is gaining more popularity as an alternative to conventional medicine and a more natural option to treat various diseases and illnesses. Although there is still a lot more research to be conducted, many miraculous stories have surfaced, and this alternative medicine seems promising.

It may also come as a surprise to know that using cannabis as medicine is not new. In 2737 B.C. China, Emperor Shen Neng prescribed marijuana to treat various illnesses malaria, gout and memory problems.

Today, medical cannabis is legal in 29 U.S. states, including New York. Each state has varying laws regarding the form and amount of medical marijuana allowed. Furthermore, only certain health conditions may qualify for a medical cannabis prescription. There are different ways to take medical cannabis, such as tinctures, smoking or edibles; however, the only legal way to consume medical marijuana in New York is orally.

Health Conditions that Qualify for Medical Marijuana in New York

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You will need to discuss with your doctor whether medical marijuana would be appropriate for you.

If you are living in New York and are interested in trying medical cannabis, the first thing you would need to consider is whether your health condition qualifies. The health issues that qualify by law include cancer, HIV or AIDs, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis. You will need to discuss with your doctor whether medical marijuana would be appropriate for you. Furthermore, your doctor will need to be registered with the New York Department of Health for them to issue you with a certification for the medicine.

Requirements for Physicians to be in the Medical Cannabis Program

If your doctor is not registered in the medical marijuana program, they must meet a list of criteria to be accepted. First, they must complete a four-hour course approved by the commissioner, and they must be qualified to treat patients with serious conditions such as cancer, epilepsy and inflammatory bowel disease. Moreover, they must be licensed, in good standing as a physician, practicing medicine and registered with the New York Department of Health.

Registering for the Medical Marijuana in New York

Once you have received your certification from your medical practitioner, you can then register for the medical cannabis program through the Department of Health’s online patient registration. There is a fee of $50 to apply. Proof of identity as well as residence must be provided, and the Department of Health will then send a registry identification card. Patients then simply must take their certification and identification card to a dispensing facility to obtain the medical marijuana they need.

Buying Medical Marijuana in New York

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The price of medical marijuana in New York can vary; however, the Department of Health works with consultants to make sure that pricing is comparable between all dispensaries.

In New York, there are 20 dispensaries; almost 900 medical practitioners who are registered to prescribe medical cannabis; and 14,400 patients who are certified to buy the medicine. The possession limit in New York is limited to a 30-day supply, and you can purchase tinctures, vaporizers and medical cannabis concentrates.

The price of medical marijuana in New York can vary; however, the Department of Health works with consultants to make sure that pricing is comparable between all dispensaries. To get an idea, medical marijuana in New York will cost you roughly $30 per gram, but depending on how much you require, this means that it could cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars per month.

Fortunately, one of New York’s medical cannabis producers, Etain Health, has recently created a discount program for customers. The idea is to make medical marijuana more affordable, and they do this by ensuring that for every $100 spent, there is a $5 discount until $400 is spent. Then the discount increases to $10 per $100 spent. If you end up spending $1,000 or more, then you will receive a $15 discount for every $100 spent.

How Medical Marijuana in New York Compares

Overall, New York seems to have a stricter program compared to the other legal states when it comes to being qualified for medical marijuana. Only several serious illnesses and diseases are considered for this form of medication. Chronic pain that causes health and function degradation has also been accepted as an ailment that will qualify for medical cannabis. Moreover, nurse practitioners and physician assistants will be allowed to certify people for the medicine, and the state is even considering home deliveries.

A leading telemedicine portal called NuggMD is hoping to make access to medical cannabis in New York more reasonable by facilitating the link between patients and licensed medical practitioners. This is hopeful as more and more states are starting to get on board with legalizing marijuana for medicine and patients are continuously seeing benefits from it.

As medical marijuana laws in New York start loosening the restrictions and regulations, an increase in patients is expected. Hopefully, more will be able to benefit from this alternative form of medication.

What a Medical Cannabis Patient in New York Needs to Know

Medical marijuana has been making waves on the West Coast since it was first introduced in California in 1996. Since then, especially within the past five years or so, other states have introduced medical cannabis to patients across America. New York became the 23rd state to introduce the drug when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law in July 2014. But for a state with a liberal reputation and voting history, New York’s medical marijuana laws are notorious for being some of the most restrictive and complicated. It can be tough for patients across the U.S. to keep track of medical marijuana laws as it applies to their home state, so for the medical cannabis users of New York, we’re here to make it easy!

Medical Marijuana in New York

Although the conditions that permit medical cannabis use in California are wide, varied and loose, New York is, unfortunately, a lot more restrictive — or at least it has been for the past two years. Officially, you must suffer from a specific, severe, debilitating or life-threatening affliction such as cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s, ALS or neuropathy problems. On top of that, you must be suffering from “associated or complicating conditions” for your particular disease, specifically wasting syndrome, chronic pain, seizures or persistent muscle spasms. This rigid and largely severe conditioning is undoubtedly what gives New York its harsh reputation in the medical marijuana arena, though there are recent signs that these laws are being relaxed.

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New York became the 23rd state to introduce medical cannabis when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law in July 2014.

A bipartisan bill that would introduce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition was passed by the Senate Health Committee and now awaits the final hurdle of approval.

There is also heavy campaigning by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal to add menstrual cramps to the list of qualifying conditions, a motion that has seen celebrity support from Whoopi Goldberg and is currently being pushed forward.

So, although the initially restrictive measures for medical marijuana in New York might be disheartening to potential patients, there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel, a light that can only grow stronger as more and more states around the U.S. begin to adopt medical marijuana laws.

How to Obtain Medical Marijuana in New York

The first step to obtaining medical marijuana in New York is to present to your physician with a condition you suspect might entitle you to medical cannabis treatment. The physician will make an assessment, and if he or she is registered with the New York Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program, they may make a recommendation for medical cannabis and issue you with a certificate.

The next step in a pretty convoluted process is to register with the Medical Marijuana Program through the Department of Health’s online Patient Registration System. After your registration is thoroughly processed, you will receive a Registry Identification Card, which is the all-important document to legally get you inside the dispensaries and start availing of medical cannabis.

Medical Marijuana Rules in New York

So now you’re through the dispensary door, you should know a thing or two about how much medical cannabis you can carry around with you and how exactly you can avail of it. Unlike California, New York has made the bizarre decision to forbid all smoking of medical marijuana. The only approved forms of taking the medicine are liquid and oil, for vaporization or inhalation, or capsules that can be administered orally. Exactly why the Department of Health has banned the smoking of medical cannabis remains a mystery. We can only guess that they wanted to draw a firm and decisive line between medical use and recreational use. Although this may change in the future, as it stands currently, smoking is a no-go for the medical cannabis patients in New York.

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The first step to obtaining medical marijuana in New York is to present to your physician with a condition you suspect might entitle you to medical cannabis treatment.

All the details about how you can take your medical cannabis must be written on your certification form by your physician. This means you can’t deviate from the methods of administration you enter initially. The form will also contain information about the authorized brand or use. Again, this is in sharp contrast to states like California, who are much more liberal with the methods of procurement and administration. As marijuana has now been legalized for recreational use in Cali as well, we can hope that the situation will not remain so rigid for NY; though it may take some years to catch up.

Again, this is in sharp contrast to states such as California, which is much more liberal with the methods of procurement and administration. As marijuana has now been legalized for recreational use in California as well, we can hope that the situation will not remain so rigid for New York, though it may take some years to catch up.

When you arrive at the dispensary, it is also important to note that they can only hand out a 30-day supply or less, and unfortunately, it is illegal to grow your own medical marijuana at home. State-registered dispensaries are the only way to obtain the medicine, and even then, there are many hoops to jump through.

While the medical marijuana in New York is undoubtedly restrictive and strict relative to other states, the good news is that it can only get better. It might seem like an uphill battle to avail of medical cannabis at this point in time, but there are people working behind the scenes to make sure everyone in New York gets a fair shot at availing of the many benefits of medical marijuana.