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NY Marijuana Dispensary Guide
New York Regulated Cannabis Program Overview
Type of program: Medical only
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York’s medical marijuana measure (S7923), now known as the Compassionate Care Act in July of 2014. In April 2015, the final regulations were released to the medical marijuana program. In the summer and fall of 2015, the Health Department awarded five licenses to organizations allowing them to sell and grow medical marijuana, giving them a window of six months to begin production.
All medical marijuana is subject to a 7% tax. Out of the tax pool, 22.5% is designated to go to the county responsible for manufacturing the marijuana, another 22.5% to the county where marijuana is being sold. Plus 5% is designated to criminal justice services and another 5% to drug abuse prevention programs.
Marijuana dispensaries in New York
Medical marijuana patients may legally purchase their products from any of New York’s 40 approved dispensaries distributed throughout the state.
Licensed applicants must meet standards assessed by the Department of Health, including safety and security requirements, suitability of location, and character and competency evaluations.
Dispensaries in New York are required to report all sales, deliveries, and distribution of medical cannabis and must pay a tax of 7% on the gross receipts from the sale of medical marijuana.
New York dispensaries are required to include a safety insert developed by the Department of Health with each purchase.
In New York, dispensaries can operate as non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses.
Marijuana Menu products available in New York
At present, New York state prohibits the smoking of marijuana and concentrates, Smoking medical marijuana is banned in New York state, as are edibles. Advocacy groups claim this reduces the number of healing compounds in medicinal marijuana.
These are the medical marijuana products legally available for consumption in the state of New York, and sold in NY dispensaries:
- Metered liquid or oil preparations (tinctures, sublingually administered products, vape pens)
- Solid and semisolid preparations (capsules, tablets, lozenges)
- Cannabis flower (for internal use only, smoking is prohibited)
- Cannabis-infused topicals such as transdermal patches, lotions, and ointments
Marijuana Deliveries RX: available in some places
New York marijuana delivery laws vary. Not every region or city in New York allows medical marijuana deliveries.
Delivery is readily available in Albany, Queens, Rochester, and Brooklyn.
Only registered medical marijuana patients and their caregivers are entitled to have their products delivered by local dispensaries. New York medical marijuana dispensaries that offer delivery vary.
The physicians are also required to declare a dosage for calculating a patient’s thirty-day supply of medical marijuana products.
A medical marijuana patient’s prescribing physician must dictate the amount, daily dosage, and brand of cannabis product for the specific treatment of the qualifying condition.
Patients are encouraged to buy medical marijuana products on a monthly basis, as the total amount dispensed may not exceed a thirty-day supply.
When a patient purchases medical marijuana products from a dispensary the doctor’s recommendation will include:
- The authorized brand and form of marijuana
- Consumption method
- Other limitations required
Medical marijuana patients must be at least 18 years old to purchase and consume cannabis products in the state of New York. Patients under the age of 18 with a qualifying medical condition and the permission of a parent or guardian may apply for a card via a state-sanctioned caregiver or a legal guardian over the age of 21.
How to get a medical marijuana card in New York
In order to apply for a New York medical marijuana card, patients must first be examined by a state-certified healthcare provider in order to determine if the patient qualifies.
Once a patient receives their recommendation from a certified physician, they’ll be issued a Temporary Registry ID card which, along with a government-issued photo ID or a current driver’s license, can be used to purchase medical marijuana at open New York cannabis stores.
Under Covid-19 emergency measures, fees are being waived by the Department of Health for both patients and caregivers. Eventually, a non-refundable fee of fifty dollars will be reinstated. Patient Information
Marijuana doctors in New York
All prescribing physicians must be registered with the New York Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana program. Furthermore, they are required to take educational courses, have expertise in any qualifying condition for which they prescribe cannabis, and provide ongoing care for their patient to ensure legal protection.
Medical professionals who are allowed to be certified by New York state’s medical marijuana program include doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. However, all assistants must be under the supervision of a registered doctor.
New York Marijuana Laws
Marijuana-related DUI laws in New York
Medical marijuana patients are prohibited from operating motor vehicles while under the influence of cannabis. Steep punishments similar to an alcohol-related DUI will apply.
Transporting cannabis in New York
Medical marijuana must be stored in a reasonably secured, tamper-proof sealed container during transport. The container must be inaccessible while the vehicle is moving.
Medical cannabis cannot be legally transported outside of New York State.
Home cultivation: prohibited
New York state prohibits the cultivation of marijuana at home for medicinal or personal use. Only licensed businesses are permitted to grow marijuana and hemp.
Public consumption laws in New York
Medical marijuana patients are prohibited from vaporizing in all public areas in the state of New York, and may not consume cannabis in or at the following:
- Job sites
- Bars Food service establishments
- Enclosed indoor public areas
- Public mass transit vehicles
- Boarding areas
- Youth centers
- Detention centers
- Child care services
- Group homes
- Residential treatment facilities
- Colleges and universities
- General hospitals
- Commercial establishments
- Indoor arenas
Social consumption: prohibited
Social consumption facilities (marijuana lounges) are illegal in New York.
New York medical marijuana and guns
New York state does not allow medical marijuana patients to purchase firearms.
Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, and is categorized as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Although medical marijuana patients may use marijuana in New York state, they are considered to be “unlawful users.”
If a patient lies on their medical marijuana application about gun ownership, or conversely lies on their gun application about medical marijuana use, the action could result in extreme punitive measures.
Additionally, if a gun is used in a crime and the owner is discovered to use marijuana, or if a gun and marijuana are found on an individual’s property or person, serious charges could be applied.
Pending Changes to New York marijuana laws
Governor Cuomo signed legislation in 2019, to both decriminalize the possession of marijuana and expunge records for marijuana-related convictions. This was the first stage of his proposal to fully legalize marijuana in the state of New York.
His proposal includes responsible use, maintaining strict packaging regulations, keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors, and stringent testing of all products. Topping the list of his priorities is the implementation of social justice reforms.
A few days before his 2021 “State of the State” address, Cuomo presented a comprehensive plan to fully legalize marijuana in New York State. He promised additional details would be forthcoming and would include the use of legalese in the evolving legislation.
Cuomo proposed the implementation of a system for the legal, state-sanctioned production and sale of marijuana. His proposal also suggested the creation of an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the state’s medical marijuana program, as well as the hemp/CBD industry and potential recreational marijuana market.
In the name of social justice, the governor also proposes assistance and licensing opportunities in communities where the residents were disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.
Millions of dollars could be saved in law enforcement costs and Cuomo believes much of that revenue could be earmarked for social programs. Communities could also receive a substantial economic boost from the projected $300 million in marijuana sales tax revenues.
Reforms in the state’s medical marijuana programs are also being proposed with the pre-filing of eight additional bills. These reforms are in regard to health insurance coverage, and tenants’ rights for medical marijuana.
The likelihood of New York legalizing recreational marijuana seems high since Democrats secured a veto-proof supermajority in the last election.
We’ll update this guide when we know more.
New York hemp and CBD laws
New York medical marijuana information and contacts
- Medical Marijuana Program Applications
- Program Information and News
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Patient Information
- Designated Caregiver Information
- Practitioner Information
- Laws & Regulations
- Registered Organizations
- Medical Marijuana Program Applications
- Contact the Medical Marijuana Program
- Contact the Cannabinoid Hemp Program
- Infographic (PDF)
- Overview (PDF)
- Fast Facts (PDF)
- Patient Brochure (PDF)