Becoming a Patient in New York

Summary

  • Must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition;
  • Must be under the continuing care of recommending health care practitioner;
  • Must be registered with the Department of Health;
  • Must pay a $50 application fee, which may be waived in cases of financial hardship;
  • Must carry registry ID card at all times when in possession of cannabis;
  • Must not consume medical cannabis in a public place;
  • Must not obtain or possess cannabis in excess of amounts specified by health care practitioner;
  • Must not knowingly share, sell, trade or otherwise deliver medical cannabis to anyone who is not a registered patient.

What's Legal

Under New York Law, individuals who suffer from certain serious illnesses may possess and use medical marijuana to treat the effects of those illnesses. To obtain marijuana for medical use, the patient must meet the following requirements:

  • must be (i) a resident of New York State, or (ii) receiving care and treatment in New York State;
  • must be suffering from at least one “serious condition” that makes him or her eligible for medical marijuana, as provided by law;
  • must be certified to receive medical marijuana by a physician who is treating the patient for the qualifying condition and who is properly licensed to issue such certifications.

Generally, a patient certified for medical marijuana may not possess at any one time more than a 30-day supply of the medicine.  However, the law permits patients to obtain a new 30-day supply during the last 7 days of their previous 30-day supply.  In the process of certifying the patient, the physician will determine the amount of medicine the patient needs for a 30-day supply.  The physician will also prescribe the form and method by which the patient should administer the medicine. Currently, approved forms of medical marijuana are liquids and oil to be used with a vaporizer or an inhaler, and capsules for oral ingestion.  

Please note: the law does not permit smoking medical marijuana in any circumstance; edible products are also not permitted. 

Patients who are certified for medical marijuana may designate up to two caregivers to obtain and administer medical marijuana products on behalf of the patients.  Each designated caregiver must register with the Department of Health, as described below.

Eligible Conditions

  • Conditions
    • Cancer
    • Positive Status for HIV or AIDS
    • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Spinal Cord Injuries
    • Epilepsy
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • Neuropathy
    • Huntington’s Disease
    • Any other medical condition added by the Commissioner

Please note: The foregoing conditions are only eligible if they produce one or more of the listed symptoms below.

  • Symptoms
    • Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
    • Severe or Chronic Pain
    • Severe Nausea
    • Seizures
    • Severe or Persistent Muscle Spasms
    • Any other medical symptom added by the Commissioner

Application Process

As the first step in applying for medical marijuana, a patient must obtain appropriate certification from his or her treating physician. It is possible that at the time of the consultation, the physician might not yet be registered with the Department to certify patients for marijuana use.  In such a case, the physician can refer the patient to another doctor who is registered to certify patients for marijuana and who is also qualified to treat the patient’s eligible condition.

After receiving a signed certification from the doctor, the patient needs to apply for a registry ID card, which may be done online at the following website: https://my.ny.gov/. There is a $50 application fee, which may be waived if the patient demonstrates financial hardship.

If the patient is under the age of eighteen (18) or a person who is otherwise incapable of consenting to medical treatment, application for the registry ID card must be submitted by an appropriate person over twenty-one (21) years of age.

Detailed instructions on how to register to receive the registry ID card may be found here: http://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/patients/

If the patient’s application is approved, the registry ID card will be mailed to the patient.

Renewal of the Registry ID Card

As a general rule, all cards will expire one year after the date on which the physician signs the certification form. There are certain exceptions to that rule. First, the physician may state in the certification that the patient would benefit from medical marijuana only until a specified date, in which case the registry ID card will expire on the date the doctor lists in the certification. Second, there is no expiration date for a written certification when the physician determines that the patient has a terminal condition. In that case, the patient’s the registry ID card will indicate that the patient is terminally ill and that the card remains valid for the life of the patient. In all other cases, upon the expiration of one year, the patient must obtain a new certification from the physician in order to renew his or her registry ID card.

Receiving and Using Medical Marijuana

Once the patient receives the registry ID card, he or she may purchase approved medical marijuana products, as recommended by the certifying physician, from a registered dispensary.  At the time of purchase, the patient must have his or her registry ID card and the corresponding physician’s certification.

Locations of dispensing facilities may be found at the following link: http://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/application/selected_applicants.htm

After purchasing medical marijuana, the patient must keep the medicine in the same original package in which it was dispensed except for the portion removed for immediate consumption. The patient must also have his or her registry ID card at any time the patient is in possession of medical marijuana.

Access/Caregivers

Patients and their designated caregivers can only access medical marijuana by purchasing it from a dispensary location of a registered organization. Patients and their caregivers may only purchase a 30-day supply's worth of medicine. Dispensaries will keep track of how much medicine patients or their caregivers have purchased to make sure they do not purchase or possess more than the state limit.

If a patient wishes to change or terminate his or her designated caregiver, the patient must notify the Department of Health and his or her designated caregiver as soon as practicable. The Department will then issue a notification to the caregiver and the patient that the caregiver’s registration card is no longer valid.

Consumption

Patients may not consume their medicine in a "public place.” The definition for "public place" has been determined by the Commissioner and is set forth in the Department’s Regulations. For a detailed list of places in which use of medical marijuana is prohibited, you should consult section 1004.18 of the Regulations, which are available at the following link: http://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/docs/regulations.pdf

Specifically, the Regulations prohibit vaporized consumption:

      i. in all non-smoking locations, such as workplaces, bars and restaurants, schools, hospitals, mass transit, and other places accessible to public; and

     ii. within one hundred feet of entrances, exits or outdoor areas of any school, though this restriction does not apply to consuming marijuana within a private residence that happens with the one hundred feet of the aforementioned areas.

Additionally, consumption of medical marijuana in any form is prohibited while inside a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, road or parking lot.

Age Limits

The law allows patients of any age to be enrolled in the medical marijuana program; however, a patient under the age of 18 must have his or her application filled out by a parent or legal guardian, and that parent or legal guardian must agree to serve as the minor-patient's designated caregiver. If no parent or legal guardian is appropriate or available, a person approved by the Department may serve as a designated caregiver.

A designated caregiver must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age, unless permitted otherwise by the Department.

Confidentiality

The law requires that the patient registry must be kept confidential. However, the Department can share patient or caregiver registry information with law enforcement if there is a violation or suspected violation of the rules of the program by the patient or caregiver in question.

Housing

Being a registered patient is considered a disability for housing discrimination purposes, which means that landlords may not discriminate against patients based upon their participation in the program.

Employment

Similarly, being a registered patient is considered a disability for employment discrimination purposes, which means that employers may not discriminate against patients based upon their participation in the program. However, employers are allowed to enact policies prohibiting their employees from performing their duties while impaired by a controlled substance, which would include medical marijuana.

Insurance

New York law does not require insurers to cover medical marijuana.  Accordingly, insurance should not be required to pay for medical marijuana therapy in New York.

Out-of-State Patients

Out of state patients are not given any legal protections under New York law.

Reporting Requirements

Patients are obligated to inform the Department of any changes in circumstances that affect the patients’ eligibility to use medical marijuana. Such changes must be reported not later than ten (10) business days after the change occurs.  Changes that must be reported include those in the patient’s name, address, contact information, and medical status.

Specifically, if a patient ceases to have a “serious condition” that qualified him or her for medical marijuana, such change must be reported to the DOH within ten (10) business days of that occurrence.  At that point, the patient’s registry ID card will be deemed void and must be returned to the Department. 

If a patient has a designated caregiver, that caregiver may notify the department of any changes on behalf of the certified patient using the same forms and process prescribed for certified patients.

For More Information

New York State Medical Marijuana Program