Medical marijuana has been legal in New York since 2014, but research about it is still very limited, and access restricted to the very few. It is still considered a Schedule I drug along with dangerous substances heroin and ecstasy, which means scientists need a special license to be able to do research on it.
This leaves many New Yorkers with unanswered questions about medical marijuana, or at least some facts that are unclear, except maybe to the handful who have a Medical Marijuana Card in New York.
Here are some of the common misconceptions or nagging questions most New Yorkers have about medical marijuana.
1. Medical marijuana is the same as recreational marijuana
Some people think that medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are the same, just serving different purposes. They are not. Both may come from the same source, but out of the 450 chemical substances that can be extracted from the marijuana plant, only one is psychoactive, and that is THC.
While recreational marijuana has high concentrations of THC, medical marijuana has only trace amounts or none at all, so patients are safe from any psychoactive effect. What it has is cannabidiol or CBD, which has medicinal benefits but not the psychoactive effects.
2. Who are eligible for medical marijuana?
Eligibility for a Medical Marijuana Card in New York is restricted to those who have life-threatening or severely debilitating conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, or epilepsy. The catch is this has to be accompanied by complications such as seizures, severe or chronic pain, or wasting syndrome. New York currently has over 115,000 patients certified for medical marijuana in a population of over 19 million.
3. How much marijuana can I get at a time?
The most that Registered Organizations can give at one time is supply enough for 30 days. How much a patient could actually get would then depend on the limitations set by the practitioner on the certificate issued to the patient.
4. Are the prices the same in all Registered Organizations in New York?
No, they are not the same. Each registered organization submits its own cost analysis report to the Department of Health along with a proposed price. The department then determines whether this price is reasonable or not. Registered Organizations may also charge less than the approved price, so it will vary from one dispensary to another.
5. What steps do I take so I can buy medical marijuana?
If you’re suffering from a medical condition, and want access to medical marijuana, consult your doctor if you’re eligible. Your doctor will be able to give a certificate if he or she is registered with the DOH.
And once you have a certificate, register online for a Medical Marijuana Card in New York. A registry ID card will be mailed if you are approved. With your registry ID, you can purchase marijuana from a registered dispensing facility.
The government recognizes that more information about medical marijuana and its benefits have to be uncovered. In fact, at one point, the DEA considered reclassifying it as Schedule II drug to make things easier for researchers. In the end, it did materialize, but support for marijuana research is growing within the agency. So, hopefully, things will change soon, so more patients can benefit from medical marijuana.