Empire State residents with qualifying conditions have had access to medical cannabis since 2014. While talk of recreational legalization often comes up, for now, New York’s medical cannabis program is the safest way for patients to access lab-tested cannabis products to help manage their symptoms and conditions.
If you’re interested in how to become a medical cannabis patient in NY, here’s what you need to know.
How to Become a Medical Cannabis Patient in NY: Residency Requirement
In order to participate in New York’s medical cannabis program, you must be able to demonstrate current residency in the state. You’ll need to provide one of the following proofs of residency:
- ID number from your New York State driver’s license or New York State non-driver ID card
- Copy of a government-issued ID card that contains your name and New York State address
- Copy of a utility bill or other document issued within the previous two months, containing your name and address and showing your residency
- Copy of a current lease or similar document showing your residency within New York State
- Other documentation as approved by the Department of Health (DOH) containing sufficient information to show proof of residency in New York State
If you’re a temporary resident receiving treatment in New York for a qualifying medical condition, you can also demonstrate residency by providing a lease, a utility or hospital bill, or other documentation as approved by the DOH.
NY Medical Cannabis Qualifying Conditions and Finding a Doctor
Next, you must be certified by a physician as have one of the following qualifying conditions:
- Chronic Pain
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Huntington’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spinal Cord Injury with Spasticity
- Any condition for which an opioid could be prescribed
Associated or complicating conditions include:
- Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
- Opioid Use Disorder
- Severe or Chronic pain
- Severe Nausea
- Severe or Persistent Muscle Spasms
If you believe you live with one or more of the qualifying conditions, the next step is to obtain a medical certification from a doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner licensed to recommend cannabis medicine in New York.
If your doctor is certified with the state to recommend cannabis, they can do it for you. Otherwise, you will need to visit a state-certified medical professional. You can access a list of state-certified care providers and reach out to one or more of them.
Be prepared to bring your medical records with you if you’re seeing a new health professional. You’ll want to share details of your medical history to help her make a determination about your eligibility.
If you are approved and your health professional recommends medical cannabis to manage your symptoms, you’ll then need to register with the state.
How to Become a Medical Cannabis Patient in NY: The Application Process
Once you’ve visited a care provider to affirm that you suffer from a qualifying condition, you’ll need to gather the appropriate documents to submit to the state’s Medical Cannabis Program. These include:
- A signed certification from a New York State registered practitioner
- A photo ID
- Proof of NYS residency (see above)
- A birth certificate for patients under the age of 18
For a complete list of steps and instructions, you can visit the state’s patient registration instructions.
Once you’ve gathered all these documents, you’ll submit them to the state’s Medical Cannabis Program. There is a $50 application fee, though as of November 2020, the DOH is currently waiving the fee.
Once your application is turned in and processed, you can expect to receive your New York State Medical cannabis Card within seven to ten business days.
When you have your card, you’re free to visit any licensed dispensary in New York, like our Vireo Health dispensaries. Just be sure to bring your photo ID and your medical cannabis card with you.
Registering a Caregiver and Renewing Your Card
If you need help getting your medical cannabis, you can designate a caregiver to assist them in accessing and taking MMJ. These caregivers must register with the Department of Health, and in most cases must be at least 21 years old. In addition, they must possess a valid registry identification card for each patient under their care (with a maximum allowable total of five patients per caregiver).
Be sure you renew your card on time. Patient and caregiver cards expire every year. The process is the same as your initial application, meaning that you’ll have to be certified by a care provider and submit your paperwork all over again.