New York Marijuana Legalization: The Guide for 2020

Last Updated on May 24, 2022 by Mark Conklin, RN, MHA

In 2014, New York became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana. With some of the stricter policies and more rigid limitations compared to other states, it can be challenging to determine if you’ll be able to qualify and what the rules to follow are.

Getting your medical marijuana card in New York is a relatively simple process if you qualify, and we can walk you through it.

In this guide, we’ll define medical marijuana, discuss New York marijuana legalization, and the conditions that qualify. Then we’ll show you how to get your medical marijuana card and be on your way to alleviating pain and suffering once and for all.

What Defines Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana has the same properties as recreational marijuana but is recommended by a specialized doctor to ease symptoms of certain diseases and conditions. 

Once considered a recreational drug, science has fine-tuned the definition of marijuana. Medical marijuana use is on the rise due to its ability to help those with certain conditions. 

Medical marijuana must be recommended by a specially licensed medical marijuana physician. While it can’t treat or cure diseases and health issues, it can help alleviate symptoms and make you feel better.

How Does Medical Marijuana Work?

Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. THC, the main cannabinoid that creates a “high”, is among the most well-known. 

What many don’t realize is, your body also creates its own molecules similar to cannabinoids. We call these endogenous cannabinoids – or endocannabinoids. The system as a whole is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and is comprised of a complex cell-signaling process. The ECS regulates sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and even reproduction. It’s also linked to muscle formation, pain, metabolism, inflammation, and stress.

Endocannabinoid receptors are found all around your body. CB1 receptors are generally found in the brain and throughout the body, while CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune and gastrointestinal systems (but can also be in the brain). Endocannabinoids can bind to either the CB1 or the CB2 receptors, and which they bind with determines its effect on your body.

When the THC from medicinal marijuana enters the body, it attaches to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. This bonding affects different parts of your body in different ways. Reduction in pain and inflammation is one of the main benefits of cannabinoid receptor stimulation through medical marijuana use.

Is Marijuana Legal in NY?

While NY’s recreational marijuana use is still strictly prohibited, medical marijuana is legal when properly recommended by a. As of May 2020, there were 114,947 medical marijuana patients in New York.

New York Compassionate Care Act

In 2014, the Compassionate Care Act under bill number A06357 passed that:

 “legalizes the possession, manufacture, use, delivery, transport or administration of medical marihuana by a designated caregiver for a certified medical use; prescribes procedures for such possession, acquisition, etc. including certification of patients by their practitioner, and that, in the practitioner’s professional judgment, the patient would receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from use of medical marihuana.”

In addition, the bill allows for regulation by the Department of Health and leaves it to the governor’s discretion to continue or discontinue the legalization at any time if he or she feels there are any risks to the public.

New York Medical Marijuana Laws 

Other notable laws and rules pertaining to the possession and use of medical marijuana, even if you are approved, are as follows: 

  • Your dosage cannot exceed a 30 day supply.
  • Possession does not exceed the doctor’s recommended quantity.
  • The forms of medical marijuana must be those which are recommended and in compliance with physician recommendation.
  • Medical marijuana should be kept in the same package in which it was dispensed. The only removal from the original package should be for immediate consumption.
  • Medical marijuana can not be smoked, consumed, vaped, or grown in a public place, regardless of its legality.
  • Your registry identification card must be with you at any time you have possession of medical marijuana.
  • A patient may designate up to two caregivers who can pick up medical marijuana on their behalf. These caregivers should be 21 years of age and can not be caregivers for more than five patients.
  • Medical marijuana you’ve been recommended by the physician can not be given or sold to any other individual.
  • Currently, approved forms of medical marijuana in NY include; chewable and effervescent tablets, lozenges, topical lotions, ointments, patches, capsules, liquids, and oils for vaping. Smoking medical marijuana is not permitted.

The state requires that a patient be certified by a specially licensed practitioner registered with and trained by the Department of Health, and continues under their care. The practitioner must not only determine that you have a preexisting approved condition but that you will benefit from therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of medical marijuana. 

Since marijuana is known to reduce pain and ease PTSD symptoms, it can be very beneficial to individuals with the listed conditions. As an alternative, marijuana-derived CBD is another choice.

Is CBD Legal In NY?

CBD is another chemical component in medical marijuana that also has beneficial properties. While marijuana contains CBD, it can also be taken by itself. Hemp-derived CBD contains minimal THC and is generally legal everywhere in the United States, but some consider it a gray area. On the other hand, medical marijuana-derived CBD still contains THC and requires your card to get it legally.

While hemp-derived CBD is legal everywhere, you should always take caution regarding where you purchase it. Companies formulate their CBD oils, capsules, and creams in their own ways, often unregulated, so it’s essential to buy from a reputable source.

While you can get hemp-derived CBD without a medical marijuana card, obtaining your card and purchasing the marijuana-derived CBD that dispensaries sell offers more effectiveness due to the THC containment.

Under Title 5A – Article 33, Section 3361 of the NY State Public Health law, a patient certification can only be issued if the patient’s health records indicate they have an approved condition.

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in New York

New York State mandates that patients must have one of the qualifying conditions allowed by medical marijuana legalization. The approved conditions are as follows:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Pain
  • Epilepsy & Seizures
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Huntington Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathic Pain
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • PTSD
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Substance Abuse

The certified marijuana physician will help to determine your eligibility based on your symptoms from the above conditions. From there, the process is simple!

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in New York

New Yorkers wishing to obtain their medical marijuana card will be happy to know you can complete the process entirely online. 

THC Physicians offers an online medical marijuana card solution consistent with state telehealth laws and regulations and maintains all patient information in HIPAA-compliant software.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Evaluation: Set up an assessment with a practitioner registered with the New York State Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. You can easily schedule this here.
  2. Recommendation: The practitioner will determine if your condition meets the state’s qualifications. He or she will make a recommendation for medical marijuana and establish a care plan, similar to a prescription.
  3. Registration: Once the practitioner has given the recommendation, you can be registered with the state’s database upon your application’s approval. The State of New York will then issue you a medical marijuana card that you can use to make purchases through registered dispensing facilities.

THC physicians are here to help people in New York and Florida receive the medical treatment they need. If you have any questions about getting a marijuana card, please browse our how-to page for more information or contact us if there is anything we can answer for you!

Howard Seth Meiselman, DO

Medically reviewed by Howard Seth Meiselman, DO — Written by Mark Conklin 

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Mark Conklin, RN, MHA

Mark Conklin is the founder and CEO of Tierra Healthcare Concepts and is also part of the medical team. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field working at the executive management level and as a medical professional. Education RN, BS Biology, and Master of Health Administration course curriculum.

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