New York’s Medical Marijuana FAQ’s

What is New York’s Medical Marijuana Bill?
Legislators in Albany have introduced the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would allow New Yorker’s
with serious medical conditions limited access to medical marijuana under the supervision of healthcare
professionals and under tight state regulation.

How would a patient become eligible to use medical marijuana?
To become eligible to receive medical marijuana, patients must be certified by a healthcare practitioner
who is licensed to prescribe controlled substances (i.e., physician, physician assistant, or nurse
practitioner) as having a severely debilitating or life-threatening illness for which marijuana is likely to
have a therapeutic or palliative benefit. The certification lasts for a year and then has to be renewed.
Patients with a terminal illness can receive a certification that lasts until the end of their lives.

Can patients designate a caregiver to help them obtain medical marijuana?
Recognizing that some patients may be very ill, the bill allows patients to designate a caregiver, who can
help them obtain medical marijuana. Caregivers must be 21 years of age (unless approved by the
Department of Health [DOH]), must receive a registry card from DOH, and cannot serve more than five
certified patients. Under the bill, registered caregivers have the same protections as patients.

How would the program work?
The New York proposal was drafted with careful, strict controls: under tight regulation, a patient who has
been certified by a physician to use medical marijuana would register with DOH and receive a patient
identification card that has the patient’s name, photo, date of certification and its expiration, and
physician contact information. DOH can charge a “reasonable” fee for registration. Specially approved
organizations – such as hospitals, designated nonprofits, or for-profit businesses – would dispense the
marijuana to registered patients, under DOH supervision.

Who can operate an organization that dispenses medical marijuana?
Pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, hospices, non-profit organizations, and
for-profit businesses can apply to DOH to legally sell and dispense medical marijuana to patients or
caregivers. DOH will also register producers for purpose of manufacturing, selling and delivering medical
marijuana to registered organizations. DOH will oversee the applications, registration and renewal
(required every two years) of organizations and ensure that the dispensing of medical marijuana is tightly

How much medical marijuana can a patient or his/her caregiver possess?
The bill allows a registered patient to have up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana without facing any
penalties. A designated caregiver may possess up to 2.5 ounces for each of his or her registered patients.