New York’s medical cannabis law was signed into law by then-governor Andrew Cuomo on July 5, 2014. Called the Compassionate Care Act, it was one of the most restrictive plans in the country at the time, with myriad amendments put into place at Cuomo’s demand.
When it was signed, the Act prohibited state residents from smoking medical cannabis. It also initially banned raw cannabis, significantly limited the number of qualifying conditions, and only allowed five manufacturers to operate within the state. Over time, changes have been made to the Act to improve its accessibility.
Now, getting a medical marijuana card in New York is a relatively straightforward process. Today, we’re breaking down the steps to follow and what you need to know before you get started.
The State of Medical Marijuana in New York: Key Updates to Know
Since its inception, the Compassionate Care Act has undergone many different changes. Most of these changes were designed to relax the previously-imposed restrictions that made the program inaccessible to many patients who required this form of care.
In January of 2022, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) announced that it was updating its medical cannabis certification and registration system. Under this new system, more patients can be deemed eligible to participate in the program. This allows a greater number of people to benefit from the medicinal properties of marijuana.
The changes centered on New York’s Medical Cannabis Data Management System (MCDMS). The updated MCDMS also makes the certification and registration process simpler and more streamlined. Now, it’s easier for practitioners, patients, and caregivers to use the platform.
The most significant update enacted this year? Now, practitioners can certify patients with any condition that they believe medical cannabis can treat, based on their clinical discretion. They are not required to refer to the previous list of qualifying conditions to determine patient eligibility.
Among others, some of the key changes include:
- Streamlining the process to complete or edit a certification
- Allowing practitioners to extend certification vs. re-certifying patients
- Removing the restriction that required practitioners to wait until 30 days prior to the expiration date to extend a certification
- Removing the requirement to add a start/end date for each dosing recommendation
- Removing the requirement for practitioner signature on certifications (electronic signatures now)
- Increasing the number of designated caregivers allowed from two to five
Want to register for a medical cannabis card in the Big Apple? Let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to follow.
Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in New York
The NY Office of Cannabis Management makes it simple for qualifying patients to get their medical marijuana cards. To do so, you’ll need to complete these three steps.
Step 1: Contact Your Health Care Provider
Your first step is to contact your trusted health care provider. Per the latest changes to the MCDMS, licensed New York providers can analyze your condition to determine if medical marijuana can help. If they deem that you’re eligible, they will provide you with your certification.
Note that providers must meet certain qualifications before they’re able to issue patient certifications. Specifically, they must:
- Be licensed, registered, or certified by the state to prescribe a controlled substance within NY
- Complete a specialized course (at least two hours long) that covers the details of the program
The types of providers that can complete these steps and certify patients include:
- Physicians assistants
- Nurse practitioners
Once you receive certification from your health care provider, you can begin the registration process. Note that New York law requires patients to renew their medical marijuana card on an annual basis.
Consulting with Doctors of Cannabis
Want to skip the drive and the long line in the waiting room? Doctors of Cannabis make it easy to meet with a certified physician in a matter of minutes. Our doctors are available online from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day.
You can visit without an appointment and receive expert guidance from your computer or mobile device. The total price for certification and consultation is only $149 in New York.
As long as the information you provide matches what the New York DMV has on file, you can download your temporary ID card immediately after you register with our platform. We’ll deliver your permanent card in the mail within two weeks.
Once you receive your certification, you can start purchasing products from certified NY marijuana dispensaries. Visit our NY medical marijuana page for more information.
Step 2: Register Online
If you go the traditional route, your next step after receiving your provider certification is to register for participation in New York’s Medical Cannabis Program through the OCM’s Patient Registration System, available online.
If you do not have one already, you’ll need to create a new account on the My NY.gov ID website before you can begin your registration.
Visit the website, and click on the “Don’t have an account?” prompt. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to create your own personal account.
If you do already have an account with My NY.gov, then it’s relatively quick to add your certification.
The easiest way to do so is to enter your New York State DMV ID number in the DMV ID field in your account information. You can find this number in a few different places, including:
- Your state-issued driver’s license
- Your learner’s permit
- A non-driver ID
If you don’t have a New York State DMV ID, you can still add your certification to your account.
First, log into your account and click the “Health Applications” tile. Then, click the link that says “Medical Cannabis Data Management System (MCDMS)”.
From there, click the “Start New Registration” button. You can follow those steps to register your certification. Your official registry ID card should arrive in the mail within seven business days, but you can print a temporary ID card to start using immediately.
If you’re using a temporary ID card, you’ll also need to have a government-issued photo identification card on hand to purchase medical cannabis from a cannabis dispensary.
Special Exceptions to Registration Requirements
If the person applying for a registry identification card is younger than 18 years old, an appropriate person over 21 years old must complete the process for them.
The same applies to any patient who is otherwise incapable of consenting to their own medical treatment. The designated person will become the certified patient’s associated caregiver, and they must have at least one.
Per the state, an appropriate person is defined as anyone who identifies as the following:
- A parent or legal guardian
- A person designated by the patient’s parent or legal guardian
- A person approved by the OCM if no parent or legal guardian is available
- An employee of a designated caregiver facility
Step 3: Visit a New York Medical Cannabis Dispensary
Once you have your registry ID card in hand, you can start visiting local medical cannabis dispensing facilities. Be sure to bring your ID card, as well as your certification, with you when you go.
As you search for facilities near you, keep in mind that many registered organizations will offer home delivery as well as in-store shopping options. Make sure to check about their designated delivery areas, as well as any associated fees for the service, before you make a selection.
Another element to keep in mind? Dispensing facilities in New York will offer varied product selections. Specifically, they’ll vary in terms of CBD and THC content.
All facilities must offer at least one brand of medical marijuana that has an equal ratio of both THC and CBD. They must also offer one brand that contains a low-THC/high-CBD ratio. In addition, they must also offer other products that contain varying ratios of THC to CBD.
Information for Caregivers in New York
Caregivers in New York may also be able to purchase and administer medical marijuana for qualifying patients. Per the new updates, patients can register up to five caregivers.
They can choose to add them during the patient registration process. Or, they can add them at any time after they’ve submitted their registration. In the “Patient Registration” tile of their My NY.gov account, they should see a tab that says “Manage Caregivers”.
They can then click the “Add” button to add the names of their caregivers. They can also use this page to delete previously designated caregivers from their accounts. To register a caregiver, they will need to enter each person’s basic contact information, including:
- Date of birth
- Street address
- Phone number and phone type
- E-mail address
- DMV ID and DMV ID state
The process to register as a caregiver is similar to the one described above. If you’re a caregiver who does not have an account on My NY.gov, you’ll need to create one.
Once you do, simply visit the “Health Applications” tile, click the MCDMS link, and then the “Start New Registration” button. Follow those instructions to register in the system.
Note that the OCM must approve the patient’s registration before caregivers are allowed to register.
Forms of Medical Cannabis Allowed in New York
Organizations registered to manufacture medical cannabis products in New York may only do so in forms approved by the OCM.
The most common types of products available include:
- Vape cartridges
- Vape pens
- Oral sprays
- Oral powders
- Metered ground plants prepared for vaporization
- Whole flower cannabis for vaporization
- Transdermal patches
Medical Marijuana Dosage Limits in New York
Many states mandate a certain number of days that can be included in a given fill period. New York does as well but puts more control in the hands of the health care practitioner.
In this state, the patient’s certifying practitioner can enforce any limits on the use of approved medical cannabis. They’ll mark those limits on their certification.
If they want to issue any other recommendations regarding the patient’s dosage, they’ll also include that information on their certification. However, such recommendations are not required.
The total amount of medical cannabis that a registered organization may dispense is not to exceed a 60-day supply. Only individuals with a valid New York State registry identification card can purchase medical marijuana within the state of New York.
Can I Grow Medical Marijuana at Home in New York?
There is legislation pending that may one day make this possible, but not yet. On October 21, 2021, New York’s Cannabis Control Board advanced certain proposed regulations regarding the home cultivation of medical cannabis. These regulations are in line with the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).
Then-governor Cuomo signed the MRTA into law in March 2021, making New York the 15th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The public comment period for the home cultivation regulations ended on January 18, 2022.
The OCM will take time to review the public comments on the regulations. Then, they’ll determine whether they need to make any amendments to them before filing them for adoption. Until all of the regulations are formally adopted, neither patients nor their caregivers can cultivate any type of marijuana at home, whether for recreational or medicinal use.
The most recent action occurred in February 2022, when NY governor Kathy Hochul signed the Conditional Cannabis Cultivation Bill. This bill allows existing hemp farmers to apply for a new Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator license. However, these are the only parties who are permitted to proceed, and the bill includes many restrictive clauses and regulations.
Thankfully, our process makes it easy to get the medical cannabis you need, when you need it the most. In three steps, you could receive your medical marijuana card in New York, without the hassle and wait time you might expect.
Are You Ready to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in New York?
If you need a medical marijuana card in the Empire State, we’ve got you covered.
Our three-step process makes it easy to connect with a licensed marijuana doctor, receive an expert consultation, and (if approved) receive your card. You can also pursue your card using the steps described above, following the guidelines provided under the MCDMS.
Getting a medical marijuana card in New York doesn’t have to be difficult. When you’re ready to get started, create an account with us today to sign up!