In 2014, medical marijuana was legalized in the Big Apple, making this East Coast state the 23rd in the country to legalize medical marijuana. In July of 2014, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the state’s medical marijuana measure (S7923) creating what is now the Compassionate Care Act. However, New York’s medical marijuana program didn’t go into effect until 2016 due to difficulties in the planning and implementation of the numerous marijuana policies.
Initially, New York’s medical marijuana program was limited in comparison to other state-wide medical marijuana programs. In recent years, the state’s medical marijuana program has undergone expansions regarding qualifying medical conditions, now including ailments like PTSD and many more.
Although medical marijuana is legal in New York, recreational marijuana is not. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana have come from various organizations, pro-marijuana activists and even certain governmental figures. Unfortunately, the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act were introduced too late in 2019, so the measure didn’t receive sufficient Senate support nor did it receive a vote before the state’s deadline. The next step for New York marijuana activists to focus their efforts on getting a recreational marijuana law passed in 2020.
While it falls short of legalization, the state decriminalized marijuana and expunged many past marijuana possession convictions in June of 2019. Any persons with less than 2 ounces can still be arrested and receive a violation, but it will not lead to prison time or a criminal record. Furthermore, those with less than 1 ounce would receive a ticket of $50, lowered from $100 previously
Buying medical marijuana is easy with a valid MMJ card and dispensaries can be found across the state. Some municipalities even allow delivery services for patients.
To legally buy marijuana products you can visit various dispensaries from any of the 10 registered retail New York organizations. To purchase marijuana, you must be a state-registered medical marijuana patient with a physician’s approval. When purchasing marijuana, bring a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card to prove your age, name and other information. You must also bring your medical marijuana card with you whether you’re a patient or an assigned caregiver.
Caregivers may purchase marijuana on behalf of a patient they represent, but you must be at least 21 years old to become a caregiver. Individuals who qualify for medical marijuana and are eighteen years old or younger may be able to receive marijuana with a doctor’s approval and parental consent.
In New York, marijuana delivery services are offered in certain areas such as Albany, Queens, Rochester and Brooklyn. As marijuana laws are different in every municipality, not every city in New York will allow marijuana deliveries. At this time, the only individuals who qualify to receive medical marijuana deliveries are registered medical patients and/or designated caregivers. A few dispensaries that offer marijuana delivery services in New York include Vireo Health, Columbia Care
In the state of New York, there are set hours of operation that licensed dispensaries and shops must follow. In New York, medical marijuana dispensaries and retailers can open as early as 8 in the morning and stay open until as late as 10 in the evening. Despite the legal hours of operation set by state law, city and local governments may further restrict these hours if they so wish.
According to New York’s medical marijuana program, when buying marijuana, qualifying patients and designated caregivers can purchase a 1 month supply. The amount of marijuana products one can purchase depends on their doctor’s recommendation. In other words, a registered medical patient or caregiver can buy different quantities of marijuana according to their doctor’s recommendation.
In New York, there are only a handful of marijuana-infused products offered at licensed dispensaries. Smokable forms of marijuana and THC-infused edibles are both illegal in the state. The products that can be purchased at dispensaries and retailers include marijuana-infused capsules, different liquids such as tinctures, topical items, various oils, transdermal patches and certain vaporization-related products.
For several years, medical marijuana has been legal in New York. In addition to the costs, qualifying individuals must pay for different marijuana products, a 7 percent excise tax is placed on medical marijuana products in the state of New York. Compared to other U.S. states with medical marijuana programs, New York’s excise tax is on the lower end of the spectrum.
At this time, the only individuals who can legally possess marijuana products are registered medical marijuana patients and licensed caregivers. Although New York limits the types of marijuana products dispensaries and retailers can sell, patients and caregivers can possess up to a 30-day supply of various marijuana-infused, non-smokable products. It’s crucial to always carry your medical marijuana card with you when possessing marijuana.
Since recreational marijuana remains illegal in New York, state residents who aren’t caregivers or medical marijuana patients cannot legally purchase, possess or consume marijuana products.
Even though medical marijuana is legal in New York, there are very few places where qualifying individuals can legally consume marijuana. Currently, it’s against state law to use medical marijuana products in any type of commercial or public space that follows public health laws regarding smoking. Similarly, it’s illegal to use marijuana products within 100 feet of any entrances, exit or outdoor spaces at public and private schools, colleges and universities. It’s also against the law to consume medical marijuana products in any motor vehicle, whether the vehicle is parked or in motion.
Below is a list of several places that do and don’t allow consumption of marijuana products:
Areas in New York that DO NOT allow the consumption of marijuana:
Schools and school grounds
Restaurants and cafes
Bars, taverns, and pubs
Areas in New York that DO allow the consumption of marijuana:
Private property of a medical marijuana patient
A medical marijuana patient’s friend or relative’s private property
In New York and all other U.S. states, smoking marijuana on federal lands is strictly illegal. Even though medical marijuana is legal in New York, this doesn’t mean that medical patients can light up on federal lands such as state parks, forests and beaches. Unfortunately, marijuana remains an illegal substance federally in the U.S. So, if you’re caught smoking marijuana on federal lands in New York such as at Liberty State Park, Riverbank State Park or Bear Mountain State Park, you may face legal consequences.
New York is an extremely popular and highly visited state with a population of roughly 20 million people. Medical Marijuana was first legalized in 2014 making them the 23rd state in the nation to legalize marijuana on a medical level. The bill S7923 was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014, creating the New York medical marijuana program now known as the Compassionate Care Act. The intention of this bill was to provide qualifying state residents with natural alternatives to pharmaceutical medications to treat their various ailments. Despite the CCA being approved in 2014, medical marijuana patients were not able to purchase products until 2016 when the program went into full effect.
To obtain a medical marijuana card in New York you must be a state resident diagnosed with one of the state’s qualifying medical conditions, diseases or ailments. A handful of New York’s qualifying conditions include (but aren’t limited to) seizures or epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe or chronic pain and severe or chronic nausea. To see if you qualify for a medical marijuana card, check out New York’s full list here.
If you believe you’re eligible to apply for a medical marijuana card, you must follow these steps:
1. Visit a healthcare provider and gain their approval regarding the usage of marijuana to help treat your qualifying condition
After receiving their approval, they must sign your certification form which will be submitted along with your application
This form is required in order to apply for a state registry ID card
To discover registered healthcare providers in New York, check out this link
2. Apply for a state registry ID card online
You can follow step-by-step instructions about how to register by clicking this
You need the following documents when applying online: Completed certification form from your healthcare provider, proof of New York residency and identity, (and if you’re younger than eighteen years old) a parent or guardian must submit a copy of their government-issued ID as well as a copy of the patient’s birth certificate
3. Visit any licensed medical marijuana dispensing facility
After receiving your permanent state registry ID card, you’re able to visit any New York dispensing facility to purchase medical marijuana products
When doing this for the first time, you must bring your registry ID card and certification form with you
At this time, New York doesn’t have a reciprocity program in place that allows out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to purchase medical marijuana in New York. This may change in the future, but for now, only state-registered medical patients and licensed caregivers can purchase medical marijuana products at New York dispensaries and retailers.
If you’re an approved medical marijuana patient or designated caregiver, you can legally transport various marijuana products from a dispensary or retailer to one’s home. It’s essential for all approved marijuana products to be placed in a secure, safe and locked storage compartment before driving. The storage compartment must be located in a part of the vehicle that is not visible from the outside, such as an enclosed trunk. Also, all marijuana products should be in spots where the driver and passengers cannot access them while inside the vehicle.
In New York and all other U.S. states, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law. This includes all THC products, and since it remains a Schedule I illegal substance, it’s strongly advised to not drive while under the influence of marijuana. If you get caught driving under the influence of cannabis, you may face serious legal consequences.
Even though marijuana is legal in other East Coast states near New York, it’s against the law to drive across state lines with marijuana products. This applies to medical marijuana patients, caregivers and all other individuals who may purchase marijuana. If you’re pulled over and caught while driving across state lines with marijuana, you may be arrested, receive driving restrictions, or go to jail since marijuana is a federally illegal substance.
Although medical marijuana is legal in New York, this doesn’t automatically mean that growing marijuana is legal. At this time, marijuana cultivation is against the law for all New Yorkers. This includes registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers. It’s possible that an at-home marijuana cultivation law will be put in place in the future, but for now, growing marijuana in New York is strictly illegal.