Updated July 2019
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 in 2014. However, the state has been criticized for limitations on its policies, and cannabis advocates and pro-cannabis lawmakers have continued to work for further progress.
Recreational Marijuana in New York
Recreational marijuana remains illegal in New York, however small amounts are considered a civil offense rather than a criminal one. Since the 1970s, possession of fewer than 25 grams has been decriminalized in New York. In July 2019, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo further decriminalized marijuana. Under the new law, offenders caught with possession of less than one ounce of marijuana will be issued a ticket for $50. Those caught with between one and two ounces of marijuana will be cited a ticket for $200. Anyone caught with more than two ounces will be charged with a misdemeanor. The bill also automatically expunges many low-level marijuana convictions across the state.
Cuomo has endorsed full recreational marijuana legalization, and has pushed state lawmakers to present him with a bill to sign. Negotiations on a marijuana legalization bill continued up until days before the legislative session came to an end in June 2019, but efforts fell short. Instead, lawmakers compromised and approved the decriminalization measure.
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.
As of July 2019, there are 40 open and operating dispensaries throughout the state. Home cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes is not permitted under the law.
In New York, the following conditions are approved for medical marijuana access:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Chronic Pain
- 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 July 30, 2019, there are 104,775 patients certified by practitioners and 2,430 physicians that have registered for the NYS Medical Marijuana Program.
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.
A bill to legalize the commercial production of hemp and hemp-derived products like CBD passed both chambers of the New York Legislature in June 2019, but it remains unclear whether Cuomo will sign it into law.
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