- This week, eight medical marijuana dispensaries opened their doors in New York—a year and a half after Governor Cuomo signed Compassionate Care NY to allow legal use of medical marijuana.
- New York is now one of 23 states, along with Washington, D.C., to allow medical marijuana. Its program is one of the most restrictive and hard-to-access programs in the nation.
- The program does not allow patients to obtain marijuana to smoke. Instead, patients receive forms of marijuana for use in vaporizers and inhalers, or as capsules. Minnesota is the only other state with similar restrictions.
In an area already characterized by restrictions, New York's medical marijuana program is tightly controlled, subjecting patients to numerous security checks and requiring a diagnosis for a serious or terminal illness, such as AIDS or cancer.
Critics of this approach call the program too restrictive, saying that many patients will miss out on needed therapy because of the current protocols. Advocates of New York's approach argue the program will make it easier to study the benefits of medical marijuana, as usage will be strictly controlled. Additionally, by only permitting marijuana in liquid or oil form, pharmacists can better control dosing.
While medical marijuana is becoming more accepted, there is still an air of criminality around possession, making it difficult to set up dispensaries without some type of law enforcement involved.