A Guide to New York Cannabis Laws
Medical cannabis has been legally available to New Yorkers through the State’s medical marijuana program since 2014.
People may be eligible to use medical cannabis to treat their health condition if a state- registered health care provider certifies that medical cannabis is clinically appropriate. Patients must also register with the state to be able to purchase medical cannabis.
The new law expands the eligibility of medical cannabis, increases the number of caregivers allowed per patient, allows prescriptions for as many as 60 days (up from 30) and allows smokable cannabis to be purchased in medical cannabis dispensaries.
Once regulations are finalized, certified medical cannabis program patients will also be able to grow up to six plants at a time at home.
Legal Adult Use and Possession in NYC
- It is now legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use in New York. Adults may smoke or vape cannabis wherever smoking tobacco is allowed under the smoke-free air laws, with a few exceptions.
- Cannabis use is not allowed in motor vehicles (even if they are parked) or in outdoor dining areas at restaurants. Smoking or vaping cannabis in prohibited areas may result in a civil summons and fine.
- It is still against the law for people younger than 21 years old to possess, sell or use any amount of cannabis. Also, no one may legally possess more than three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, sell any amount without a license, or drive while under the influence or impaired by cannabis.
- After legal sales begin and home cultivation begin:
- Adults will be allowed to purchase cannabis products at licensed retailers.
- Adults will be allowed to grow three cannabis plants at home. Homes with more than one adult will be allowed to grow six plants (three mature and three immature plants).
- Adults will be allowed to store up to five pounds of cannabis in their home.
- Cities and towns may have on-site consumption areas where people can use cannabis.
What conditions make me eligible to get medical cannabis?
- You may be eligible for medical cannabis if you have one or more of the following conditions: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain that degrades health and functional capability as an alternative to opioid use, substance use disorder, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, or any other condition, at the discretion of your health care provider.
What is the first step to obtaining medical cannabis?
- The first step is speaking with your treating practitioner about whether the medical use of cannabis is appropriate for your condition. Your practitioner may issue you a certification if medical cannabis is an appropriate treatment for you.
How can I find a practitioner who can certify me for medical cannabis?
- Patients seeking access to medical cannabis should first go to their treating practitioner. If a patient’s treating practitioner does not already certify patients for the use of medical cannabis and would like to, they can find information on the OCM website.
- Patients may access a list of practitioners who certify patients here.
What forms and dosage amounts of medical cannabis are allowed?
- Registered organizations may only manufacture medical cannabis products in forms approved by the Office of Cannabis Management.
- Some examples of medical cannabis products that are available are vape cartridge/pen, capsule/tablets, tincture, oral spray, oral powder, lozenges, metered ground plant preparation for vaporization, whole flower cannabis for vaporization and transdermal patches. Patients should contact each registered organization to learn what products they have. More information about registered organizations can be found here.
- The patient’s certifying practitioner will include any limitations on the use of approved medical cannabis on the certification. If a practitioner has a recommendation regarding dosage, it should also be included on the certification, although a recommendation on dosage is not required. The total amount of product that may be dispensed by a registered organization may not exceed a sixty-day supply.
Can I legally grow my own medical cannabis at home?
- Not yet. On October 21, 2021 the Cannabis Control Board advanced proposed regulations for home cultivation of medical cannabis. The proposed regulations follow the requirements of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) . The public comment period ended January 18th. The OCM is reviewing the public comments on the proposed regulations to determine whether amendments need to be made before the regulations are filed for adoption.
- Patients and designated caregivers CANNOT legally cultivate medical cannabis at home until the regulations have been formally adopted.
- When the final home cultivation regulations have been adopted, a notice will be posted on our website notifying patients and designated caregivers that they can legally cultivate medical cannabis at home in accordance with the regulatory requirements.
What do I do after I receive a certification from my certifying practitioner?
- Once you possess a certification from your practitioner, you must register with the Medical Cannabis program through the OCM’s online Patient Registration System. You can find patient registration instructions by visiting https://cannabis.ny.gov/patients.
- After your registration is approved, you will be issued a Temporary Registry Identification Card, which may be used in conjunction with a government issued photo identification card until you receive your registry identification card in the mail. Dispensing facility locations can be found here.
May I register on behalf of a minor or person who is otherwise incapable of consenting to medical treatment?
- Yes. If the applicant for a registry identification card is under the age of eighteen (18) or a person who is otherwise incapable of consenting to medical treatment, the application must be submitted by an appropriate person over twenty-one (21) years of age. The applicant must designate at least one, caregiver who must be among the following: (i) a parent or legal guardian of the certified patient; (ii) a person designated by a parent or legal guardian;(iii) an appropriate person approved by the OCM upon a sufficient showing that no parent or legal guardian is available or appropriate or (iv) an employee of a designated caregiver facility, including a cannabis research license holder. The designated caregiver must also register in order to receive a registry ID card of their own in order to purchase the medical cannabis on behalf of the patient. You can find detailed instructions on the registration process, by visiting: Designated Caregivers
How do I register with the program as a caregiver?
- A patient who is registered with the program must first designate you as a caregiver during the patient registration process. After the patient’s registration has been approved by the OCM, the caregiver(s) must register as well. The patient will have access to instructions for caregiver registration. To register with the OCM as a designated caregiver, you must have a valid DMV ID or a government issued Non-Driver ID card. You can find detailed instructions on the registration process, by visiting: Designated Caregivers
When can I expect my registry identification card to arrive?
- After your registration is approved you will be issued a Temporary Registry Identification Card, which may be used in conjunction with a government issued photo identification until you receive your registry identification card in the mail. Please allow approximately seven business days to receive your Patient or Caregiver Registry ID Card. Dispensing facility locations can be found here.
Can I still register if a practitioner will not provide a certification?
- No, a patient may not register without a certification from a practitioner.
Is recreational marijuana legal in New York?
- Using it is now legal. Selling it will be legal too, once regulations are in place.
What does legalization mean for New Yorkers?
- New Yorkers are now allowed to possess up to three ounces of cannabis for recreational use or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, such as oils derived from a cannabis plant.
- People who are 21 and older are allowed to use, smoke, ingest or consume cannabis products; they can also give them to others who meet the same age requirement.
- At home, people will be permitted to store up to five pounds of cannabis, but they will have to take “reasonable steps” to make sure it is stored in a secure place.
- There are penalties, ranging from a simple violation to a felony, for possessing more than the permitted amount of cannabis and for selling the drug without a license.
Where is marijuana allowed?
- Smoking cannabis is not permitted in schools, workplaces or inside a car.
- An officer, however, is not allowed to use the smell of cannabis as a justification to stop and search a pedestrian.
- People are legally allowed to smoke cannabis in private residences, as long as the landlord doesn’t prohibit you from doing so, as well as in hotels and motels that permit it.
- Club-like lounges or “consumption sites” where cannabis — but not alcohol — can be consumed will also be permitted in several months, when regulations are in place. Municipalities could opt out of allowing these sites.
How can I buy it?
- The law creates retail licenses, paving the way for brick-and-mortar dispensaries where people can purchase cannabis products. Localities can opt out of allowing dispensaries and will have until the end of the year to do so.
- Consumption at dispensaries will be limited to businesses that have an on-site consumption license.
- The state will also issue licenses for the creation of cannabis delivery businesses, which means people will be able to get the drug delivered to their homes, something localities would not be able to block.
Practitioners Who Can Certify Patients
- The definition of “practitioner” has been expanded to include anyone who is licensed, registered or certified by New Yok state to prescribe controlled substances within the State.
- Practitioners will be required to complete at least a two-hour course before they can begin certifying patients for medical cannabis.
- The conditions for which patients may qualify to use medical cannabis have been expanded and now include the following: cancer, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pain that degrades health and functional capability where the use of medical cannabis is an alternative to opioid use, substance use disorder, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, rheumatoid arthritis, autism or any other condition certified by the practitioner.
- A certified patient will now be able to designate up to five (5) individuals to serve as designated caregivers, and also designate facilities and facility employees as designated caregiver facilities.
- Designated caregivers will be able to serve up to four (4) certified patients.
- The Cannabis Control Board will be required to register additional Registered Organizations to provide services to unserved and underserved areas of the State.
- Racial, ethnic, and gender diversity will be actively promoted when considering applications for new registered organizations.
- The number of dispensing facilities a Registered Organization may operate will be increased to a total of eight dispensing sites; provided however, the first two additional sites must be in underserved or unserved geographic locations.
- The amount of medical cannabis allowed to be possessed by a certified patient will increase from a thirty (30) day supply to a sixty (60) day supply as determined by the patient’s practitioner.
Prohibition on Smoking Cannabis
- The smoking of medical cannabis will no longer be prohibited.
- Whole cannabis flower will be an approved form of medical cannabis.
- Certified patients 21 years of age or older, will be able to cultivate cannabis for personal medical use.
- Designated caregivers 21 years of age or older, who are registered with the Medical Cannabis Program and caring for a certified patient who is younger than 21 years old or whose physical or cognitive impairments prevent them from cultivating cannabis, will also be able to cultivate cannabis for use by such patients. Certified patients under 21 years old or who are unable to cultivate cannabis on their own may only designate one of their caregivers to cultivate on their behalf.
- A new cannabis research license will allow researchers to more easily study various aspects of cannabis. Depending on the scope of proposed research, the licensee may produce, process, purchase and/or possess cannabis for research purposes
New York Cannabis Advertising Guide
- Medical marihuana marketing and advertising by registered organizations. Restricts the marketing and advertising of medical marihuana.
- All advertisements, regardless of form, for approved medical marihuana products that make a statement relating to effectiveness, side effects, consequences, and contraindications shall present a true and accurate statement of such information.
- An advertisement does not satisfy the requirement that it presents a “true and accurate statement” of information relating to effectiveness, side effects, consequences, and contraindications if it fails to present a fair balance between information relating to effectiveness, side effects, consequences, and contraindications in that the information relating to effectiveness is presented in greater scope, depth, or detail than is the information relating to side effects, consequences and contraindications, taking into account all implementing factors such as typography, layout, contrast, headlines, paragraphing, white space, and any other techniques apt to achieve emphasis.
- An advertisement is false, lacking in fair balance, or otherwise misleading if it:
- contains a representation or suggestion that one marihuana brand or form is better, more effective, useful in a broader range of conditions or patients or safer than other drugs or treatments including other marihuana brands or forms, unless such a claim has been demonstrated by substantial scientific or clinical experience;
- Contains favorable information or opinions about a marihuana product previously regarded as valid but which have been rendered invalid by contrary and more credible recent information;
- Uses a quote or paraphrase out of context or without citing conflicting information from the same source, to convey a false or misleading idea;
- Uses a study on persons without a debilitating medical condition without disclosing that the subjects were not suffering from a debilitating medical condition;
- Uses data favorable to a marihuana product derived from patients treated with a different product or dosages different from those recommended in New York State;
- Contains favorable information or conclusions from a study that is inadequate in design, scope, or conduct to furnish significant support for such information or conclusions; or
- Fails to provide adequate emphasis for the fact that two or more facing pages are part of the same advertisement when only one page contains information relating to side effects, consequences and contraindications.
- False or misleading information in any part of the advertisement shall not be corrected by the inclusion of a true statement in another distinct part of the advertisement.
- An advertisement for any approved medical marihuana product shall not contain:
- any statement that is false or misleading;
- any statement that falsely disparages a competitor’s products;
- any statement, design, or representation, picture or illustration that is obscene or indecent;
- any statement, design, representation, picture or illustration that encourages or represents the use of marihuana for a condition other than a serious condition as defined in subdivision seven of section thirty-three hundred sixty of the public health law;
- any statement, design, representation, picture or illustration that encourages or represents the recreational use of marihuana;
- any statement, design, representation, picture or illustration related to the safety or efficacy of marihuana, unless supported by substantial evidence or substantial clinical data;
- any statement, design, representation, picture or illustration portraying anyone under the age of 18, objects suggestive of the presence of anyone under the age of 18, or containing the use of a figure, symbol or language that is customarily associated with anyone under the age of 18;
- any offer of a prize, award or inducement to a certified patient, designated caregiver or practitioner related to the purchase of marihuana or a certification for the use of marihuana; or
- any statement that indicates or implies that the product or entity in the advertisement has been approved or endorsed by the commissioner, department, New York State or any person or entity associated with New York State provided that this shall not preclude a factual statement that an entity is a registered organization.
- Any advertisement for an approved medical marihuana product shall be submitted to the department at least 30 business days prior to the public dissemination of the advertisement.
- The submitter of the advertisement shall provide the following information to the department in addition to the advertisement itself:
- A cover letter that:
- provides the following subject line: Medical marihuana advertisement review package for a proposed advertisement;
- provides a brief description of the format and expected distribution of the proposed advertisement; and
- provides the submitter’s name, title, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address;
- A cover letter that:
- an annotated summary of the proposed advertisement showing every claim being made in the advertisement and which references support for each claim;
- verification that a person identified in an advertisement as an actual patient or health care practitioner is an actual patient or health care practitioner and not a model or actor;
- verification that a spokesperson who is represented as an actual patient is indeed an actual patient;
- verification that an official translation of a foreign language advertisement is accurate;
- annotated references to support disease or epidemiology information, cross- referenced to the advertisement summary; and
- a final copy of the advertisement, including a video where applicable, in a format acceptable to the department.
- Advertising packages that are missing any of the elements in subdivision.
- of this section, or that fail to follow the specific instructions for submissions, shall be considered incomplete. If the department receives an incomplete package, it shall so notify the submitter.
- No advertisement may be disseminated if the submitter of the advertisement has received information that has not been widely publicized in medical literature that the use of any approved medical marihuana product may cause fatalities or serious damage to a patient.
- A registered organization, its officers, managers and employees shall not cooperate, directly or indirectly, in any advertising if such advertising has the purpose or effect of steering or influencing patient or caregiver choice with regard to the selection of a practitioner, or approved medical marihuana product.
- The department may:
- require a specific disclosure be made in the advertisement in a clear and conspicuous manner if the department determines that the advertisement would be false or misleading without such a disclosure; or
- require that changes be made to the advertisement that are:
- necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare; or
- consistent with dispensing information for the product under review.
Marijuana tax rates in New York
- Medical marijuana: Purchases are subject to a 7% medical marijuana excise tax, but are not subject to any statewide retail sales tax.
- A tax of 0.5 cent/milligram of THC in Flower
- A tax of 0.8 cent/milligram of THC in Concentrate
- A tax of 0.3 cent/milligram of THC in Edibles
- A Retail Tax of 9% plus a statewide 4% local tax https://cannabis.ny.gov/medical-cannabis