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.

In order to certify patients for use of medical marijuana, physicians are required to take education courses, have medical expertise in the qualifying condition for which they wish to recommend cannabis, 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 full opening of registered organizations in 2016.

In January 2016, dispensaries began serving medical cannabis patients. In 2016, DOH added chronic pain as a qualifying condition and updated the regulations to allow nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis, allow home delivery, allow registered organizations to sell “wholesale” products to other registered organizations to prevent supply shortages, and removed the five “brands” limit on products offered to patients. 

In August of 2017, The Department of Health published regulations  which added lotions, patches, chewable tablets and lozenges as acceptable methods of administration. These regulations also improved the dispensing experience by allowing patients to speak directly to a dispensary representative and for caregivers to accompany patients into dispensaries.  

Brief Summary of Legislation


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


  • Must be licensed by the Department of Health to legally dispense medication to patients or caregivers with a valid registry ID card
  • Must meet standards assessed by the Department of Health, including safety and security requirements, adequate location, and character and competency evaluations
  • Can operate as non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses
  • 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 7% on the gross receipts from the sale of medical marijuana; 22.5% of all tax revenue must stay in the local county where the registered organization manufactures or dispenses medical marijuana
  • Must include a safety insert developed by the Department of Health with each purchase


Bill Numbers: AB 6357 (2014); AB 7060 (2015) (expedited access)

Enactment of the Compassionate Care Act created a new Title V-A in Article 33 of New York’s Public Health Law, entitled “Medical Use of Marijuana.”  See N.Y. Pub. Health Law, Sections 3360 through 3369-e.


Final regulations (2015)

Please visit the following link to view a copy of the regulations:



New York State Medical Marijuana Program