Frequently Asked Questions
Obtaining Medical Marijuana
1. What conditions make me eligible to obtain medical marijuana?
You are potentially eligible for medical marijuana if you have been diagnosed with a specific severe, debilitating or life threatening condition that is accompanied by an associated or complicating condition. By law, those conditions are: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington's disease. The associated or complicating conditions are 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 physician about whether the medical use of marijuana is appropriate for your condition. If your physician determines this is the appropriate treatment for you and he or she 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 doctor?
Patients seeking access to medical marijuana should first go to their treating practitioners. Additional information for practitioners can be found on the Department's website: Practitioner Education for the Medical Marijuana Program. Practitioners may also identify registered physicians who consented to be listed, with their specialties, in the Medical Marijuana Data Management System, located online within the Department's Health Commerce System (HCS). The patient's treating practitioner can then make a referral if he or she is unable to complete the course and register.
4. How can I obtain a certification if my physician is not registered with the Medical Marijuana Program?
First, speak with your treating physician to determine if medical marijuana is appropriate for your condition. If your treating physician would like to register with the program, additional information can be found on the Department's website: Practitioner Education for the Medical Marijuana Program.
5. Can 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. To date, scientists and physicians at the Department of Health have already 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 increase the list of covered conditions.
6. 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
The 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 must be included on the certification, although a recommendation on dosage is not a requirement. Moreover, the total amount of product that can be dispensed may not exceed a thirty-day supply.
1. What do I do after I receive a certification from my registered physician?
Once you possess a certification from a registered physician, you must register with the Medical Marijuana program through DOH'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
2. 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.
3. How do I register with 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. Upon approval of the patient's registration, the caregiver(s) may register. 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 NYS Driver's License or New York State Non-Driver ID card.
4. Do I have to pay to register as a patient or as a caregiver?
Yes, there is a non-refundable application fee of fifty dollars ($50) that will be billed to you at a later date. The Department may waive or reduce the fee in cases of financial hardship.
Certified patients and designated caregivers seeking a waiver from the $50 registration fee due to financial hardship will be required to upload proof of Medicaid eligibility, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). A certified patient or designated caregiver seeking a waiver using other documentation must contact DOH and provide the other documentation to determine if it is acceptable proof of financial hardship.
5. When can I expect my registry identification card to arrive?
Once the application to register has been submitted successfully and approved, please allow approximately three 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
6. Can I still register if my physician will not provide a certification?
No, an individual may not register without a certification from a registered practitioner.
1. Where can I find basic information about each Registered Organization?
Please visit the following link for information, including links to the Registered Organization's websites: Registered Organizations
2. 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
3. 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.
The Registered Organizations have worked aggressively to make a variety of products available to patients over the past few months. Additional products will be offered over time as they continue to build upon their operations.
4. What are the hours of the dispensing facilities?
The hours of operation for the dispensing facilities vary. Please review the websites of the Registered Organizations to identify their dispensing facilities' hours of operation. Please note, however that, to control operating expenses that could affect the price of the products, Registered Organizations may initially have limited hours of operation or require an appointment to purchase medical marijuana. It is anticipated that hours of operation will increase as the number of certified patients increase.
5. 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. The Department has requested that each Registered Organization develop a delivery option to ensure full access to patients who are unable to travel to a dispensing facility location due to their medical condition, or if their designated caregivers cannot obtain it for them.
6. How much medical marijuana can be dispensed?
Registered Organizations may dispense up to a 30-day supply of medical marijuana to a certified patient or designated caregiver taking into account any recommendations or limitations identified by the physician on the certification.
7. What should I do if the approved medical marijuana product is not helping me?
Work with your certifying physician to determine if a change in product, change in dose, or discontinuation of the product is appropriate.
8. 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 physician.
9. What should I do with expired/unwanted medical marijuana products?
Certified patients or their designated caregivers who have expired or unwanted medical marijuana products should render them unrecoverable beyond reclamation. The following link to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provides additional information regarding disposal methods: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/67720.html.
10. What if I need assistance obtaining medical marijuana from a dispensing facility because of my condition?
A certified patient may designate up to two (2) caregivers who may assist in receiving medical marijuana on his or her behalf during the patient registration process. After the patient's application for registration is approved, the designated caregiver(s) must also register with DOH. Detailed information on designating and becoming a caregiver is available here: Information for Patients
11. 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.
12. Why is there more than one dispensing facility in some counties?
As part of the Registered Organization selection process, the Department sought to ensure that proposed dispensaries are located throughout the state in order to meet the needs of all certified patients. This resulted in certain counties having more than one dispensing facility. The Department will carefully monitor patient need to ensure all New Yorkers who meet the requirements of the Compassionate Care Act have access to the program.
13. Are there any educational or experiential requirements for growers or dispensers?
The regulations require a staffing plan as part of the application process that includes a senior staff member with a minimum of one year experience in good agricultural practices, and a quality assurance officer who has experience and training in quality assurance and quality control procedures. In addition, the regulations require pharmacists employed in dispensing facilities to complete the four hour education course, which is the same as that required of practitioners who seek to register with the Department in order to certify patients.
14. How will DOH 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).
1. How did the New York State Department of Health Commissioner determine the pricing for Medical Marijuana?
Pursuant to NYS Regulations require Registered Organizations submitted their costs to manufacture, market and distribute products, and certified that the information was accurate, complete and current. The Commissioner then determined the reasonableness of the proposed prices.
2. Are prices for Medical Marijuana the same at all of the registered organizations?
No. Prices vary among Registered Organizations. The Department worked with a pricing consultant to ensure that pricing is comparable among all dispensing facilities.
3. Will Medical Marijuana prices change?
The Department's approved prices are in effect for the entire period of the Registered Organization's registration, until July 30, 2017. However, at the conclusion of the first year of the registration period, or prior to that date based on documented exceptional circumstances, the Registered Organizations may request a price modification. In addition, if a Registered Organization adds a new product, it must submit revised production costs and other relevant data, along with the proposed price for the new product(s) to the Department for review and approval.
4. Where will patients find the prices of Medical Marijuana?
Patients should contact the Registered Organization directly to obtain final prices, taking into account the dosing recommendations of their physician. The total amount that a patient pays depends upon a patient's individual dosing needs and the resultant total quantity purchased.
5. What is factored into the price?
The Department-approved prices are set on a per unit basis and consist of production costs plus a reasonable profit. Prices will vary due to the daily dosage level recommended by their physician and the amounts purchased on a monthly basis.
6. Does New York State provide a discounted program for certified patients who cannot afford Medical Marijuana?
The Compassionate Care Act does not mandate a discounted Medical Marijuana pricing program, but allows Registered Organizations to provide discounted products. Specifically, some of the Registered Organizations may be offering "reduced priced programs" for qualifying certified patients.