How It Works
1. What conditions make me eligible to obtain medical marijuana?
You are potentially eligible for medical marijuana if you have been diagnosed with one or more of the following severe debilitating or life threatening conditions: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease or chronic pain (as defined by 10 NYCRR §1004.2(a)(8)(xi)). 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, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms.
2. What is the first step to obtaining medical marijuana?
The first step is speaking with your treating practitioner about whether the medical use of marijuana is appropriate for your condition. If your practitioner determines it is an appropriate treatment for you and he or she is registered with the New York State Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program, he or she may issue you a certification for medical marijuana.
3. How can I find a registered practitioner?
Patients seeking access to medical marijuana should first go to their treating practitioner. If a patient’s treating practitioner is not already registered with the Department to certify patients for medical marijuana, information regarding practitioner registration can be found on the Department’s website: Practitioner Education for the Medical Marijuana Program.
Patients may access a list of registered practitioners by clicking on the “Looking for a Registered Practitioner” button on the Medical Marijuana Program website’s home page. A patient’s treating practitioner can also make a referral to a registered practitioner using the Medical Marijuana Data Management System located within the Department’s Health Commerce System (HCS).
4. May additional medical conditions be added to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana?
Yes, the Commissioner of Health may add other conditions to the list. In fact, the Commissioner recently made a determination to add chronic pain as a serious condition. Effective March 22, 2017, patients with “any severe debilitating pain that a practitioner determines degrades health and functional capability; where the patient has contraindications, has experienced intolerable side effects, or has experienced failure of one or more previously tried therapeutic options;” may qualify for medical marijuana, so long as “there is documented medical evidence of such pain has lasted three months or more beyond onset, or the practitioner reasonably anticipates such pain to last three months or more beyond onset.”
In addition, scientists and physicians at the Department of Health have analyzed more than 2 dozen scientific studies on Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and rheumatoid arthritis. They also sought input from medical professionals and associations. Despite these comprehensive reviews, there is not enough scientific evidence at this time to support the inclusion of these additional conditions to the Medical Marijuana Program. However, the Commissioner has not stopped his review and will evaluate new scientific evidence as soon as it becomes available. If sufficient scientific evidence becomes available to support the determination that medical marijuana will provide relief to patients suffering from any additional conditions, including these five, the Commissioner will act quickly to add them to the list of covered conditions.
5. What forms and dosage amounts of medical marijuana are allowed?
The Commissioner must approve any form of medical marijuana. Approved forms include liquids and oil for vaporization or administration via inhaler as well as capsules to take orally. Under the law, smoking is not permitted and the regulations prohibit edibles.
The patient’s certifying practitioner must include the following information on the patient’s certification: the authorized brand and form of the approved medical marijuana, the administration method, and any limitations on the use of approved medical marijuana product. If a practitioner has a recommendation regarding dosage, it should also be included on the certification, although a recommendation on dosage is not required. Moreover, the total amount of product that may be dispensed may not exceed a thirty-day supply.
What do I do after I receive a certification from my registered practitioner?
Once you possess a certification from a registered practitioner, you must register with the Medical Marijuana program through the Department’s online Patient Registration System. You can find detailed instructions on the registration process, including how to register on behalf of a minor or an individual who is otherwise incapable of consenting to medical treatment, by visiting: Information for Patients
After your registration is processed, you will be issued a Registry Identification Card. Once you have received your registry identification card, you may visit a dispensing facility to obtain medical marijuana products. Dispensing facility locations can be found by clicking here: Registered Organizations
7. May I register on behalf of a minor or person who is otherwise incapable of consenting to medical treatment?
Yes. If the applicant for a registry identification card is under the age of eighteen (18) or a person who is otherwise incapable of consenting to medical treatment, the application must be submitted by an appropriate person over twenty-one (21) years of age. The applicant must designate at least one, and up to two, caregivers who must be among the following: (i) a parent or legal guardian of the certified patient; (ii) a person designated by a parent or legal guardian; or (iii) an appropriate person approved by the Department upon a sufficient showing that no parent or legal guardian is available or appropriate.
8. How do I register for the program as a caregiver?
A patient who is registered with the program must first designate you as a caregiver during the patient registration process. After the patient’s registration has been approved by the Department, the caregiver(s) must register with the Department. The patient will have access to instructions for caregiver registration. To register with the Department as a designated caregiver, you must be a resident of New York State and have a valid New York State Driver’s License or New York State Non-Driver ID card.
9. Do I have to pay to register as a patient or as a caregiver?
There is a non-refundable application fee of fifty dollars ($50) that the Department is currently waiting for all patients and their designated caregivers. Simply select “Bill Me Later” when registering and the application fee will be waived.
10. When can I expect my registry identification card to arrive?
Once the application to register has been submitted successfully and approved, please allow approximately seven business days to receive your Patient or Caregiver Registry ID Card. Once you have received your registry ID card you may visit a Registered Organization’s dispensing facility to obtain medical marijuana products. Dispensing facility locations can be found by clicking here: Registered Organizations
11. Can I still register if a practitioner will not provide a certification?
No, a patient may not register without a certification from a registered practitioner.
12. Where can I find basic information about each Registered Organization?
Please visit the following link for information, including links to the Registered Organizations’ websites: Registered Organizations
13. Which dispensing facilities may I use?
A certified patient may receive medical marijuana products from any dispensing facility of any Registered Organization in New York State. For a list of locations in New York, please visit: Registered Organizations
14. Will every dispensing facility sell the same types of Medical Marijuana?
No. There are only two New York State-mandated products for Medical Marijuana (one with an equal ratio of THC to CBD, and one with a low-THC-high-CBD ratio) that must be offered by each Registered Organization. Each Registered Organization will also offer other products that have varying ratios of THC to CBD.
A variety of products are currently available to patients. Additional products will be offered over time.
15. When are dispensing facilities open?
The hours of operation for the dispensing facilities vary. Please contact or review the websites of the Registered Organizations for their dispensing facilities’ hours of operation. Please note, however, that to control operating expenses that affect the prices of their products, Registered Organizations may limit hours of operation or require an appointment to purchase medical marijuana.
16. Will patients who are unable to go to a dispensing facility be able to have the product delivered to them?
Patients who are unable to go to dispensing facilities should designate a caregiver who can go for them. In addition, Registered Organizations are permitted to offer delivery services to patients and designated caregivers to help expand access to those who are unable to travel to a dispensing facility. Please check with the Registered Organizations to determine whether they provide delivery services in your area.
17. How much medical marijuana can I get at a time?
Registered Organizations may dispense up to a 30-day supply of medical marijuana to a certified patient or designated caregiver, pursuant to any recommendations or limitations made by the practitioner on the certification. Registered Organizations report their medical marijuana dispensing to the New York State Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) database, so that prescribers may review their patients’ controlled substance histories and make informed treatment decisions.
18. What should I do if the approved medical marijuana product is not helping me?
Work with your certifying practitioner to determine if a change in the product, change in dose, or discontinuation of the product is appropriate.
19. What should I do if I think I’m having an adverse reaction to the approved medical marijuana product?
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately. If you believe you are experiencing an adverse event from the approved medical marijuana product, contact your practitioner.
20. What should I do with expired/unwanted medical marijuana products?
Certified patients or their designated caregivers should dispose of expired or unwanted medical marijuana products by adding water to the medical marijuana and then dirt, coffee grounds, ashes or another undesirable substance, prior to disposal in the trash, to avoid accidental or intentional misuse of the product.
21. What if I need assistance obtaining medical marijuana from a dispensing facility because of my condition?
During the patient registration process, a certified patient may designate up to two (2) caregivers who may obtain medical marijuana on his or her behalf. After the patient’s application for registration is approved, the designated caregiver(s) must also register with the Department. Detailed information on designating and becoming a caregiver is available here: Information for Patients
Registered organizations may also offer a delivery service. Please contact the registered organizations directly to determine if delivery services are offered in your area.
22. Can I use my out-of-state medical marijuana identification card to purchase medical marijuana in New York State?
No. Only certified patients with a New York State registry identification card may purchase approved medical marijuana products in New York State.
23. How will the Department ensure the quality of the products produced by the Registered Organizations?
The Department requires independent laboratory testing for every brand of product to be tested for any contaminants and to ensure product consistency. The Department’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory will perform initial testing and analysis of final medical marijuana products until independent laboratories receive certification from the New York State Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP).