New York Medical Marijuana Laws and Regulations

In July of 2014 Gov. Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act (S7923), which created legal protections for patients and caregivers and authorized the state to license and regulate “registered organizations” to cultivate and sell medical cannabis to patients. Patients must obtain a registration identification card after getting written certification from their physician.

The law requires physicians to take education courses and have medical expertise for a qualifying condition they wish to recommend for, and provide continuous care of the patient in order for the patient to maintain legal protection. Physicians must also state the “dosage” patients should use, which determines the 30-day supply of medicine that the patient may possess.

The state may license up to five registered organizations, and each may have up to four retail locations from which patients may purchase their medicine. The law forbids the smoking of cannabis by patients but does not explicitly ban patients from accessing cannabis in its dried flower form; however, the Commissioner must approve all forms of medical cannabis that are made available to patients.

In November 2015, Gov Cuomo signed AB 7060, an amendment to the Compassionate Care Act which expedited access to medical cannabis to critically ill patients ahead of the expected full opening of registered organizations in January of 2016.

Brief Summary of Legislation:

Patients

  • Must be certified by a health care practitioner (physician, physician assistant or registered nurse)
  • Must have a severe debilitating or life-threatening illness for which cannabis is likely to have a therapeutic benefit

Health Care Practitioners

  • Must report all patient certification information to the Department of Health
  • Must certify medical cannabis usage consistent with specified legal limits
  • Cannot certify themselves as patients

Designated Caregivers

  • Must be registered by Department of Health
  • Must be at least 21 years old, unless special permission is obtained from DOH
  • Must possess a registry ID card for each patient in their care
  • Cannot serve more than five certified patients

Dispensaries

  • Must be licensed by Department of Health to legally dispense medication to patients or caregivers with a valid registry ID card
  • Must meet standards assessed by DOH, including safety and security requirements, adequate location, and character and competency evaluations
  • Can operate as pharmacies, non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses or Article 28 facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, community clinics, hospices)
  • Initial registration is valid for two years, at which time renewal is required
  • Must report all sales, deliveries and distribution of medical cannabis
  • Must pay a tax of $250 per pound for all cannabis sold; 50% of all tax revenue must stay in the local county where the registered organization operates
  • Must include a safety insert developed by DOH with each purchase

Laws:

AB 6357 (2014)

AB 7060 (2015) expedited access

Regulations:

Final regulations (2015)

Program:

New York State Medical Marijuana Program