Updated on July 06, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Fred Ashford, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Patients in New York who are unaccustomed to medical marijuana are likely to be astonished to find that the system operates differently from that of traditional medicine. To get a New York marijuana recommendation filled, one is required to go through a different process than one would when filling a typical prescription.
But it’s not something to worry about. There are just a few different steps that are required to be followed to get the needed medications. Read on to know more about recommendations and how to get a medical marijuana card in New York.
How can you get a medical marijuana recommendations in New York?
To get a medical marijuana recommendations in New York, the patient needs to get diagnosed by a certified practitioner who is registered with the Department of Health. The practitioner should have completed the Department of Health-approved education course and should be registered with the Health Commerce System.
Secondly, you need to get diagnosed with a qualifying condition to get a recommendation. The list of qualifying conditions is-
- Alzheimer’s disease
- ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Pain that degrades health and functional capability
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal cord injury with spasticity
- Substance-use disorder
- Any other condition certified by the medical practitioner
After you have been diagnosed and certified, you can easily apply for your medical marijuana card.
To apply for your medical marijuana card in New York, you have to make an appointment with our board certified doctors.
Must know terms for getting a recommendation
You must have noticed that the terms used by medical marijuana specialists and patients are different from what we generally use in the medical context. These differences primarily have a lot to do with the split between federal and state laws of the United States on the subject of medical cannabis.
Despite being made legal by many states including New York, marijuana is still illegal on a federal level. This means that the terms that are used for federally approved prescription medication cannot be used for medical cannabis.
A recommendation for medical cannabis is the equivalent of a prescription. One red flag when it comes to doubting the legitimacy of a doctor or dispensary you visit is if they use the term “prescription” instead of “recommendation”.
This is because the fact remains that doctors cannot legally prescribe cannabis but only recommend it to the patients.
Similarly, the medical cannabis equivalent of pharmacies is the dispensaries that you visit to receive your medication.
The dispensaries and their licenses are closely regulated by New York’s state government. When New York’s medical marijuana program began in 2016 only five companies were allowed to open dispensaries. The number has gone up to 10 companies that are now allowed to open dispensaries. New York medical cannabis dispensaries can only sell marijuana and not any other types of medicine.
After the MRTA legalized recreational marijuana, each New York resident aged 21 and above can grow up to three mature and three immature plants on their property. The limit is up to six mature and six immature plants per household. But homegrown marijuana will not be allowed for certified marijuana patients until the state specifies regulations for it. This process will take a minimum of six months.
Finding a reliable dispensary
Thus, the only legal way of obtaining medical marijuana in New York is to use a recommendation. A recommendation will further make you eligible to buy your weed from a dispensary. So, even though the new law will eventually allow patients to grow their medical marijuana, it will take a good while for this system to start working.
Till then the best way for patients to get their dosage are the state-approved dispensaries. If such is the case, you can very well comprehend how important it is for patients to pick a good dispensary to procure their cannabis medicine.
Why is it important to find a reliable source?
With the marijuana program expanding continuously, there is the possibility of some big changes in the future about the availability and distribution of marijuana. But it is a matter of time before the system starts working efficiently and effectively.
As now the state has legalized recreational marijuana various companies or individuals will likely try to make money out of this in ways that aren’t exactly ethical. It can be difficult to understand if a particular source is reliable or not. So, it is best to stick to the authorized dispensaries to obtain your medical marijuana. There are plenty of good reasons why you should be careful about choosing your dispensary.
Firstly, if you get your stock from an authorized source, you will be maintaining compliance with the law. It is good that as a certified patient you follow the laws of the state. You are required to abide by laws despite having a ny medical marijuana card. This does you better because this will ensure your safety and ensure that you get your medicine from a legitimate source.
Secondly, if you are to get your medical cannabis from an authorized place you can be sure of the highest quality of marijuana. As the marijuana sold at licensed dispensaries has to pass intensive quality testing, you will be getting the best quality.
On the other hand, illegitimate sources can sell you marijuana with contaminants in it. But there is no chance of the quality being compromised for the marijuana sold at dispensaries and they are safe to use.
Thirdly, you should depend on licensed dispensaries to get the best marijuana strains. But you will have to do a bit of research before choosing your dispensary as different dispensaries sell different cannabis formulas. The medicine brands sold by different dispensaries will contain different ratios of cannabinoids.
While each dispensary must have at least two types of formulations, the rest of the choices depend on the dispensary you choose. But usually, you will be able to get a good menu option and different kinds of products at these dispensaries. This is important because not every variety of marijuana is useful for every patient. Choosing your particular strain is very important.
Being sure about a dispensary’s legitimacy
The state of New York allows ten companies to operate medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Thus, determining the legitimacy and legality of a dispensary is easy. You will only have to learn about the company that runs it. Presently, NYC has awarded licenses to the following organizations:
- Acreage Holdings (ACRHF)
- Columbia Care (CCHWF)
- Cresco (CRLBF)
- Curaleaf (CURLF)
- iAnthus (ITHUF)
- Etain Health (private)
- Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF)
- MedMen (MMNFF)
- PharmaCann (private)
- Vireo Health (VREOF)
Do you know that even patients and doctors without medical marijuana certifications can ask for a dispensary tour? Paying a visit to your prospective dispensary before finally choosing it as your primary source of marijuana can be useful. This way you will be able to see what the patient experience there looks like. Also, you will be able to explore the exact products that they sell and clear all your doubts with them.
The accessibility issue
One big problem, especially for people from rural areas, is to find a dispensary nearby. But this issue will hopefully be completely solved soon with more dispensaries coming up and also the marijuana delivery network expanding to serve all regions outside the city proper. With the new law, accessing marijuana has become easier but a lot of work still needs to be done for this program to become successful and reach out to the maximum number of people.
Things to keep in mind before your first visit to a marijuana dispensary
Most New York dispensaries have some requirements that you need to follow when visiting for the first time. For instance, making an appointment beforehand is required or at least preferred by many dispensaries. Also, you will be required by every NYC dispensary to carry some documents to get your medical marijuana.
The first document you will need is a state-issued NY ID card or driver’s license. Next, you will be required to present a recommendation from your doctor and your medical marijuana card. You should contact the dispensary for exact details.