The state of New York has made significant progress when it comes to marijuana reform, becoming the 23rd state in the union to legalize medical marijuana. However, the state has been criticized for limitations on its policies, and advocates are working for further progress.
Recreational Marijuana in New York
Recreational marijuana remains illegal in New York. Possession of small amounts of marijuana, fewer than 25 grams, has been decriminalized in New York since the 70’s and is punishable by fines of $100 to $250. Possession of 25 grams to 8 oz. is still considered a misdemeanor in the state and punishable by 3 months incarceration and a maximum fine of $500. Possession of more than 8 oz. is a felony and punishable by jail time of 4 to 15 years and fines of $5,000 to $15,000.
Medical Marijuana in New York
The State of New York did legalize medical marijuana in 2014 with the passing of the Compassionate Care Act (Assembly Bill 6357). Patients must obtain a certification for medical marijuana from a physician that is registered with the Medical Marijuana Program.
Under the law, registered patients with a qualifying condition have access to a 30-day supply of non-smokable marijuana products, including capsules, liquids and oil for vaporization or administration via inhaler.
On August 10, 2017, Department of Health officials announced the expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program to also permit chewable and effervescent tables and lozenges as well as topical lotions, ointments, and patches. Home cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes is not permitted under the law.
As of September 2018, there are currently 40 open and operating dispensaries throughout the state.
In New York, the following conditions are approved for medical marijuana access:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Chronic Pain (added December 1, 2016)
- HIV / AIDS
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Opioid Replacement
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Spinal Cord Damage Causing Spasticity
The Department of Health commissioner is charged with to adding or removing qualifying conditions. The department has previously considered and refused to add Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
In September 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that allows medical marijuana to be used as an alternative to opioids for acute pain management. The bill also allows substance use disorder treatment providers to recommend medical marijuana to manage pain that encourages opioid use.
As of September 25, 2018, there were 73,417 patients certified by practitioners and 1,916 physicians that have registered for the NYS Medical Marijuana Program.
This medical marijuana policy has come under scrutiny for a few reasons, including the exclusion of certain conditions from qualifying and the exclusion of smokable marijuana.
CBD Hemp Oil in New York
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in New York
The personal cultivation of cannabis for personal or medical use remains illegal. Five licensed producers provide the supply of cannabis for New York’s medical marijuana program.
New York State did pass Senate Bill 7047 in 2014 to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes. Growers must be certified and approved by the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Up to 10 additional sites, authorized by the commissioner, can be approved for growth and cultivation of hemp.
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