NY marijuana laws could be set for another change and a significant one too, by the end of this year. In January, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo made a new pledge to push for NY marijuana legalization for recreational use. It will be the third attempt in a state that became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana.
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Is Adult-Use of Cannabis Being Legalized?
Unlike the previous efforts to pass the NY marijuana regulation and taxation act last year, there is a strong belief that this year’s efforts will be successful. NY marijuana news states that the large budget deficits and the significant potential revenue from marijuana taxes are strong incentives for lawmakers.
In 2019 and 2020, two main issues were contentious and led to the NY marijuana legalization bill’s failure for recreational purposes. These were;
- Should the disparate impact of marijuana’s criminalization of minority communities be addressed?
- Can local communities be allowed to opt-out of the legalization, and to what extent?
Reasons for Optimism
Presently though, there seems to be plenty to be optimistic about. The main reasons and incentives are:
- The state legislature is under a democratic party supermajority.
- Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, NY is facing a $15 billion annual deficit in its budget.
- Legalization offers a potential $300 million in tax revenue.
- Passage of the NY marijuana legalization bill is expected to result in over 60,000 jobs from the industry. It will also spur about $3.5 billion in economic activity, including cannabis tourism.
- Failure or delayed legalization could see New York lose the financial benefits to New Jersey. New Jersey has a scheduled legalization ballot initiative in November.
While the governor is yet to flesh out the details of this new initiative, general proposals include:
- The legalization of marijuana for recreational use for any individual aged 21 or older in the State of New York.
- The bill will create the Office of Cannabis Management. This office will oversee recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and cannabinoid hemp programs.
- It establishes an equitable structure that will assist and offer licensing opportunities to entrepreneurs in minority communities that the war on drugs has impacted disproportionately.
Another critical change and feature of the new proposal is the tax structure. The governor’s proposals are different from the previous NY marijuana legalization 2020 bill. In these new proposals, the taxation is based on the kind of product and its potency and not weight.
The proposed tax rate is 10.25 % for retail consumers, topped up by local taxes. This rate is considerably lower than last year’s 20 % proposal.
In terms of potency, retail consumers will be paying a tax of;
- 0.7 of a cent for every THC milligram for shakes, pre-roll, and flower products.
- One cent per THC milligram for cannabis oil products and concentrates like topicals.
- 4 cents per THC milligram for cannabis-infused products like edibles
More information on the new proposals will become apparent as legislators discuss the bill and find consensus on any issue. Currently, however, the Compassionate Care Act remains the guiding law on NY marijuana.
New York Medical Marijuana Regulations
The Compassionate Care Act was signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2014. It provides legal protection for patients and caregivers to buy cannabis from authorized NY marijuana companies. These organizations, in turn, receive licenses to cultivate and sell cannabis.
Under the state’s Department of Health, the Medical Marijuana Program oversees the whole medical marijuana operation. It performs two main roles;
- It is in charge of the registration, purchasing, certification, and dispensing of medical cannabis for both caregivers and patients.
- It oversees the certification, registry, and regulation of medical cannabis dispensing facilities and practitioners.
An independent laboratory also tests medical marijuana products under the Environmental Laboratory Approval Program in the Department of Health. The testing covers the products’ cannabinoid profile, chemical, metal, and microbiological contaminants.
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Regulations for Patients
- Must be certified by a health practitioner to have a qualifying condition.
- They can purchase up to a 30-day supply of the cannabis product prescribed.
- They must have a medical marijuana card any time they possess medical marijuana.
- Home cultivation is illegal.
- They have to pay a $50 application fee, which may be waived or reduced in financial hardship cases.
- The NY medical marijuana age is 21 years or older. Minor patients are allowed under exceptional circumstances, and their application form must be filled by an appropriate person who is 21 years or older.
Regulations for Medical Marijuana Practitioners
- Must be registered and certified under the NY marijuana program.
- Must report all information regarding patient certification to the department of health.
- Must provide cannabis usage according to the approved legal limits.
- They cannot issue themselves patient certifications.
- Must attend a 2-4hr course before being certified.
NY Marijuana Regulations for Designated Caregivers
- They must obtain registration from the department of health.
- They must have a medical marijuana card any time they possess medical marijuana.
- They cannot look after more than five patients.
- They should be 21 years old unless they have special permission from the department of health.
- They must have a registry identification card for every patient they care for.
Both patients and caregivers have to re-register every time a new certification number comes out. Their registrations expire once the certification from the health practitioner expires per the prescription.
New York state does not offer reciprocity. Thus, the registry ID cards and certifications from other states are not accepted.
Regulations for Marijuana Dispensaries
- They need a license from the department of health.
- Need to meet and maintain standards set by the Department of Health. These include security, safety, location, and competency requirements.
- The first registration is valid for two years, after which they have to apply for renewal.
- They have the option of being for-profit or not-for-profit organizations.
- They must include a safety insert from the department of health in every purchase.
- They must report to the department of health all deliveries, distribution, and sales of medical cannabis.
- The dispensaries must pay a 7 % tax on the gross sales of medical marijuana. 22 % of this tax stays in the local country where the organization operates.
These marijuana laws limit NY marijuana dispensaries locations to give only non-smokable cannabis products. These include vaporizers, capsules, sprays, oils, and liquids. Edibles are illegal, but the current law allows for CBD-infused foods and beverages.
The qualifying conditions under NY marijuana laws are:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Huntington’s Disease
- Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
- Spinal cord injuries that have spasticity
- Substance abuse disorder
- Chronic pain within the definitions of the law
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- A severe or life-threatening condition having one or more of the following complications; Wasting syndrome, Seizures, Opioid use disorder, Extreme nausea, Persistent muscle spasms, and Chronic pain
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NY Medical Marijuana and Employment
Under the NY medical marijuana laws, a non-discrimination provision offers a level of protection for certified medical marijuana patients in their employment. Medical marijuana patients are deemed to be having a disability. As such, the law requires their employers to make reasonable accommodations as may be necessary to meet their needs.
In 2020, new provisions were brought forward further to protect certified medical marijuana patients in their employment. A significant proposal is to ban testing new job applicants for THC unless under extenuating circumstances provided for in the law.
Employers who fail to observe these regulations risk punitive damages, consequential damages, and penalties of up to $250,000.
The New York Marijuana laws are always evolving towards full legalization for adult use. In the meantime, you will have to rely on a NY medical marijuana application to help with your condition.
Given that the search for a medical marijuana practitioner can be hard allow us to make the whole process convenient for you. We not only have certified and experienced physicians in medical marijuana but have the best rates in the state.