In early January, New York's laws that allow for the legal use of medical marijuana went into effect. Now, there are eight dispensaries operating in the state to sell dry herbs and marijuana concentrates to those with prescriptions and the right credentials.
A Slow Start
As of late December, only about 50 people had gone through the process necessary to be approved to purchase medical marijuana in the state. Some say that it's not easy enough for people to understand, and know what must be done in order to legally qualify to use marijuana under the law. Here are the basics that you need to know if you live in New York and want to get a prescription:
1. Only certain doctors can write prescriptions. Not every doctor in New York State is qualified to approve you to use medical marijuana. Only certain doctors have completed the state's required training to issue marijuana prescriptions. You can check with the New York Department of Health to find one near you.
2. You must undergo a medical exam in the doctor’s office. Other states allow you to meet with doctors online to get a marijuana prescription, but in New York, you have to make a trip to see a doctor. Then, you will need to come back for consultation appointments to keep getting refills.
3. You need more than just a prescription. After you get a prescription, you can't just walk into a dispensary and have it filled. You must first apply for a card from the state. This involves filling out an application and paying a fee. Then you have to wait to receive the card.
4. You may not qualify for a prescription. New York is very strict about who can and can't use medical marijuana. Only a certain number of conditions have been approved for cards. If you don't have one of the conditions on the list, the doctor cannot give you a prescription.
5. You will have to invest in a vaporizer. New York did not fully legalize marijuana use even for those with prescriptions. Under the law, smoking marijuana is still illegal. The only legal way to use medical cannabis in New York is with a vaporizer. You can use a desktop marijuana vaporizer, a vape pen, or a portable vaporizer under the law.
6. You have to be able to afford medical cannabis. Health insurance is unlikely to cover the cost of medical marijuana. One dispensary estimated that it will cost the average user $300 to $1200 to purchase medical cannabis every month.
For those who can afford the medicine, and purchase a dry herb vaporizer pen, or other type of vaporizer for weed, and who have qualified conditions, the official launch of the medical marijuana program in New York State is exciting news, as it means for the first time, many people will be able to effectively manage chronic pain, and other unpleasant symptoms that they have been forced to live with for years.