After years of advocacy and pushing, New York State will finally be one of many that allows the prescription and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes but what does that exactly mean?
In short, folks with qualifying ailments as described by the State of New York may qualify to register for a card which can be used at any of the local 4 NYC dispensaries (two in Manhattan, one in The Bronx, and 1 in Queens—sorry Brooklyn and Staten Island, none for you) to receive your prescribed ganja but it isn’t allowed in bud form like most of us are used to—seeing it that is.
New York State Medical Marijuana Program outlines approved, “…forms include liquids and oil for vaporization or administration via inhaler as well as capsules to take orally. Smoking is prohibited.” My guess is that folks are going to prefer the oil for vaporization which is already popular among those who partake marijuana use.
According to NYS:
“The law currently identifies the following severe, debilitating or life threatening conditions: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease. Patients must also have one of the following associated or complicating conditions: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms.”
The Village Voice writes, “However, many argue that the Compassionate Care Act, which covers only ten “severe, debilitating, or life-threatening” conditions, including AIDS, epilepsy, and cancer, leaves out many sick patients who could benefit from medical cannabis products. Those with conditions like diabetes or post-traumatic stress disorder, which are treated with cannabis in other states, are not covered under New York’s medical marijuana program.”
Before you can apply online, you must receive a Medical Marijuana Program Certification from a certified and registered Medical Marijuana physician and you can check requirements at the NYS Medical Marijuana Program site.
That means that your doctor may not be certified yet as they have to take online courses before they can be certified by the state in order to prescribe.
According to Nicole Levy at DNAinfo she quotes one of the online testing companies as saying:
“I can tell you registration [for the course] is brisk,” said Stephen B. Corn, an academic clinician at Harvard Medical School and a founder of The Answer Page, which was tapped by the state to run the mandatory online course for doctors seeking to be registered with the state.
“It’s been brisk for a number of months, since the end of October, when [the course] launched… And many, many doctors have successfully, quickly, effectively completed the course.”
As of this writing, MarijuanaDoctors.com only lists 4 docs in New York State and they’re all in NYC; 2 in Manhattan, 1 in Queens, and 1 in Brooklyn.
You can ONLY register online once you receive certification from your physician and there is a $50 application fee that you will be billed sometime after (NYS doesn’t specify a time frame) which you can get a waiver for if you have financial hardship.
The following can be used as proof of hardship:
- Medicaid eligibility;
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
- Social Security Disability Income (SSDI);
- or Other documentation as approved by DOH, which contains sufficient information to show proof of a financial hardship
Physicians Skeptical of Program
While all of this might sound like a wonderful program for those in need and a step in the right directions, The Village Voice published an article about concerns physicians have with the program which many feel is very limiting and the author says that, “…it is uncertain whether enough doctors will be able to recommend cannabis to the patients who need it most”.
The article goes on to say:
“As written, the Compassionate Care Act — signed into law last year by Governor Andrew Cuomo — requires physicians who wish to recommend cannabis to register with the Department of Health, take a four-hour educational course, and maintain an ongoing relationship with the patients for whom they write recommendations. Additionally, the doctor must be treating the specific condition for which he or she is recommending cannabis; for example, only an oncologist can write a recommendation to a cancer patient for medical marijuana. These requirements are among the reasons why, for many doctors, medical cannabis remains a nonstarter.
The Compassionate Care Act has been derided as prohibitively restrictive. It covers just ten “severe, debilitating, or life-threatening” conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, and AIDS, and permits only five companies to operate a total of twenty dispensaries throughout the state. Those dispensaries will be allowed to carry just five “brands” of medical cannabis in the form of vaporizable oils, capsules, tinctures, and other non-smokable products. And many doctors and medical marijuana activists fear that there’s still too much work to be done between now and the law’s implementation to assume that the program will be even nominally effective come January.” —Here’s Why Doctors Are Still Skeptical About New York’s Medical Marijuana Law
Dispensary locations in New York City are as follows (Please note: We’ve reached out to the dispensaries, however, no official date for opening has been provided as of yet so keep this page bookmarked for updates):
- The Bronx – PharmaCannis 405 Hunts Point Avenue (located deep within smack in the middle of the industrial park and as far away from a train as can be)
- Manhattan – Bloomfield Industries 345 E 37th Street in Murray Hill
- Manhattan – Columbia Care LLC 212 E 14th Street in The East Village
- Queens – Vireo Health of NY – Location TBD (Queens will also have a manufacturing facility operated by Bloomfield Industries)
So it’s still up in the air if folks will be able to get access to medical marijuana or if the dispensaries will be up and running as planned for January 2016 but we still have 28 days to go until the end of the month.
We’d love to hear about your experiences in this process.