New York State Expands Medical Cannabis Access

The New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)  has expanded eligibility criteria for patients who could potentially benefit from medical cannabis.

Changes announced on Monday that include certification and registration systems moving under the full control of the OCM allow the certification of a patient by a practitioner for any condition the practitioner believes can be treated with medical cannabis.

Previously, New York State residents could be eligible for medical marijuana if diagnosed with one or more severe debilitating or life threatening conditions including cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity and epilepsy; among others.

In terms of the certification and registration system, certifications were previously issued by New York State’s Department of Health. These will remain valid until their expiration dates, then reissued by the OCM after expiration. Current caregivers will be issued new registry ID cards.

“Launching the new patient certification and registration system and expanding eligibility for the Medical Cannabis Program are significant steps forward for our program,” said OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander. “It’s important for New Yorkers to know that even as we shift the medical program to the OCM, your access will not be disrupted and the program will continue to expand.”

There have been quite a few positive changes since the OCM and the Cannabis Control Board’s first meeting in October last year, including:

  • Allowing the sale of whole flower medical cannabis products;
  • Expanding the types of eligible clinical providers able to certify patients
  • Increasing the amount of medical cannabis that can be dispensed from a thirty day supply to sixty days
  • Permanently waiving the patient and caregiver $50 registration fee
  • Streamlining approvals for facilities to become designated caregiver facilities to hold and dispense medical cannabis

The changes have occurred in the wake of the passage of the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was enacted in March last year.

On a related note, legislation signed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo already permits adults to possess and consume cannabis for recreational purposes in New York, but legal dispensaries for the adult market are yet to appear in New York.

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