Even though New York legalized medical marijuana three years ago, only 33,000 patients are registered in a state that’s home to over 19 million people. Strict limitations on marketing and advertising have made it an uphill battle to spread awareness. The result? A slow trickle of enrollment because patients are getting fed incomplete or erroneous information.
In an effort to help New York residents looking to improve their health with medical marijuana, we’ve debunked four of the most common myths about the Empire State’s legal program.
MYTH #1: You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get a medical marijuana recommendation in New York.
Not so. In fact, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to get a doctor’s assessment—all you need is access to a computer and an internet connection. Through HelloMD, the nation’s largest medical cannabis community, you’ll chat with a qualified doctor who’ll assess your medical history and determine whether you have a qualifying condition. Once you get approved and receive your certification, register online with the Department of Health (DOH). Then, within a few days, you’ll receive your medical marijuana certification and card in the mail. Now you’re ready to visit a state-licensed dispensary.
Visiting a dispensary is just like visiting any medical office, and the staff tells you everything you need to know: how cannabis works, how it can help your condition, the different methods of ingestion, and how to dose. At the end of the appointment, you’ll leave with your medicine and a clear understanding of how to take it.
Take a look at this video to learn more about the PharmaCannis dispensary patient experience.
MYTH #2: You have to be critically ill to qualify for medical marijuana.
While terminal and critical illnesses are among the program’s approved conditions, the good news is that as of March 2017, chronic pain qualifies as well. Chronic pain is defined by the DOH as “any severe debilitating pain that the practitioner determines degrades health and functional capability.” So, if you’re suffering from arthritis, migraines, pain from a back injury, or any persistent pain, then you may qualify for medical marijuana.
To see the complete list of qualifying conditions, check out the Department of Health website.
MYTH #3: Legally, you’re only allowed to take CBD oil in New York.
While smoking flower (or bud) is still illegal in New York, the program does let patients use cannabis product that include both CBD and THC in a number of ways:
- Liquid or oil for administration via tincture, sublingually, (using a dropper to place a few drops under the tongue) for example
- Liquid or oil for administration by vaping (this includes vape pens—which have fast become the preferred method of consumption in states offering cannabis medically and recreationally)
- Capsules for oral administration
The program expanded in August 2017 to allow non-smokable forms of ground plant material, so while the program doesn’t currently include edibles, you could cook up your own tasty treats in the near future. And, by the end of the year you’ll likely find lotions, ointments, patches, lozenges and chewable tablets.
MYTH #4: New York’s medical marijuana is low quality.
While New York isn’t a state typically known for growing top-notch herb like California and Colorado, its medical marijuana program is vertically integrated.
This means that each registered organization (RO) cultivates, processes and dispenses its own medicine. Vertical integration gives each RO the ability to create their own products in direct response to what their patients want and need – it also is a self-regulating method of ensuring quality.
ROs take their work very seriously, because if the medicine isn’t effective, it’s easy for patients to switch to another provider or walk away from the program completely. “We have scientists [working] to get this from a plant format to medicine for patients,” says Mike Richards, PharmaCannis wholesale manager. “Sometimes people have the stereotype that guys and gals who are growing this medication are up in a field somewhere with dreadlocks listening to Bob Marley,” he explains. “Not to say we don’t have a good time doing what we do because we’re very passionate about providing medication and helping patients.”
All this is to say that, if you are a resident of New York, getting certified to use medical cannabis and obtaining quality product may not be as difficult as you think. You can begin the process here at https://www.hellomd.com/new-york