New York passed the landmark legislative bill in July of 2014, Senate Bill S7923, legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Following the example set by other states, the governing body felt that with all the evidence supporting the potential benefits for chronically ill patients it was time to put healthcare in the hands of doctors where it belonged. Although it was a hard-fought battle, the state’s guidelines for medical use came into effect on January 2016. While many people saw the passage as the first step to total legalization within the state, others hailed it as a win for patient advocacy. Despite many misunderstandings, patients throughout the empire state have begun the process of qualification, allowing medical marijuana’s use.
Albeit contrary to the laws of the federal government, states have taken legalization measures acting against illicit drug laws of the country and without the approval of the FDA (Federal Drug Administration). Since there is a discrepancy between the state and federal laws, individuals who need medical marijuana should be cautious when using their medication, especially outside of their homes. Below is a brief explanation of how the program works and who might be eligible to participate.
NYS Medical Marijuana
In contrast to those who use recreational marijuana to get “high,” medical marijuana is used solely to treat the symptoms associated with one or more life-threatening or altering conditions. While many conditions find their way on the qualifying conditions in every pro-medical use state, not every state uses the same qualifying factors. For instance, in California, ADHD and anxiety are qualifying conditions while neither is approved for marijuana treatment in New York. Despite this difference, almost all states have created ways for additional ailments to one day be added. The current list for New York is below:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Spinal cord injury with spasticity
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic pain
- Pain that degrades health and functional capability
- Alternative to opioid use
- Substance use disorder
The severe debilitating or life-threatening condition must also be accompanied by one or more of the following associated or complicating conditions:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe or chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
- Opioid use disorder
As with every medical condition, there are those who doubt the efficacy of certain treatments. Medical marijuana is no different. Unfortunately, due to the limited number of clinical trials, it is hard to prove cannabis’ effects on the seriously ill. However, there are a few studies available for review. Each patient considering this type of treatment is encouraged to discuss the possibilities with their primary care physician and a licensed medical marijuana doctor before deciding on treatment.
Approval Steps For Medical Marijuana in New York
Once a patient has decided that they would like to try medical marijuana for their condition, they must seek a recommendation from one of the many licensed providers throughout the state. To find a provider, patients can ask for a referral from their doctor or find someone on the state’s website at https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/. These practitioners have been approved by the state and trained to understand how marijuana works, the dosing requirements, and many other issues related to treatment.
While some patients prefer the traditional method of making an appointment and visiting the doctor at his/her office, others find the newer telemedicine option easier. Telemedicine is a means of consulting a provider from a distance through virtual technology. The marijuana doctor will review the patient’s medical records and any supporting documentation regarding their ailment before making a recommendation.
Once approved, the practitioner will submit the required information into the marijuana database and issue a temporary cannabis ID card. Much like a driver’s license, the permanent card will come in the mail later. In New York, patients are required to pay a $50 registration fee to the state as well as any costs incurred from the facility providing the examination.
Patients who are under the age of 18 must have a designated caregiver that is a parent or legal guardian who can act on their behalf to be qualified for medical marijuana. Once that step has been completed, a medical use card will be issued to both the patient and the caregiver.
Qualified patients may purchase a 30-day supply of cannabis from one of the licensed dispensaries located throughout the state. Of course, in order to buy anything, patients or their caregivers must have the medical use card with them at the time of purchase. Incidentally, patients are also required to have their ID with them regardless if they are visiting the dispensary or not.
Additional Rules Regarding Medical Marijuana in NY
Medical marijuana patients must adhere to the state’s laws governing when, where, and how they can consume their marijuana medication. Because cannabis is a psychoactive drug, patients are requested only to consume their products at home and never while operating an automobile or heavy machinery. In fact, according to the state’s policies, while transporting marijuana medication, it should be unopened and out of the reach of the driver or minor occupants.
The guidelines also dictate how patients can consume marijuana. The most popular forms of consumption are smoking or eating cannabis. Both are strictly prohibited. The current list of approved consumption methods is transdermal patches, topically, vaporization, or orally with capsules, tablets, and lozenges.
Traveling Outside of New York as a Medical Marijuana Patient
To date, more than two dozen states have approved medical marijuana for their citizens, but only eight have reciprocity. Those states are Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Each state has its guidelines for reciprocity; however, most do not allow out of state patients to purchase medical marijuana while visiting. Before traveling to another state, patients are encouraged to seek the advice of authorities in those jurisdictions.
Medical marijuana is an effective treatment option for many diseases and conditions. Although it can not be used to treat all medical ailments, patients that are living with them are fortunate to reside in a state that took steps to offer alternative treatment measures.
If you are a resident of New York and wish to be considered for medical marijuana, contact a licensed provider to see if you qualify. Residents of Utica can click here, and residents of Tonawanda can click here, to fill out an application and be evaluated by a medical professional for medical marijuana. Feel free to contact us.
You can keep up to date on more medical marijuana health and news here.