On Thursday, Dec. 18, New York State lawmakers drafted up the rules and regulations for its new medicinal marijuana program, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in July.
According to the Buffalo News, the regulations will dictate everything from how to grow marijuana, to the system for dispensing it to patients, to the price patients will have to pay to obtain medical marijuana cards.
In order to recommend their patients for medical marijuana use, doctors throughout New York State will have to complete a four-hour training course and then be approved to register as a medical marijuana prescriber. New York State says it will issue licenses to as many as five vendors to grow marijuana, with each of them being able to open and operate four dispensaries, the Buffalo News reports.
State lawmakers also decided not to draw up a plan that would allow certain patients with life-threatening conditions to obtain medical marijuana on an emergency basis before the program’s scheduled start in January 2016. This decision has earned its share of backlash from residents suffering from severe conditions that would be alleviated through medical marijuana use, such as childhood epilepsy.
However, allowing emergency access to medical marijuana could put the state’s entire program at risk, state officials said, as the U.S. Department of Justice denied the state’s request to provide this emergency access before its program starts.
“Medical Marijuana is becoming the new Tower of Babel; each state with different rules and regulations! What happened to the K.I.S.S. principle, just keep it simple stupid,” says Dr. David Imrie, Medicinal Marijuana Association. “It just adds to complexity and cost. If every doctor had to have a four hour training program before prescribing narcotic analgesics, much more harm would be avoided.”
When New York State’s medicinal marijuana program under the Compassionate Care Act begins in January 2016, patients seeking a medical marijuana card will have to speak to a registered physician who will then determine if the patient’s health conditions warrant a recommendation for medical marijuana.
Once the patient has obtained a doctor’s recommendation, he or she can then register for a New York State ID card, which will cost $50, the Buffalo News reports, with exceptions allowed for cases of financial hardship.
To become one of New York’s five growers and vendors of medical marijuana, profit or nonprofit organizations must apply with a detailed outline of their plans along with a $10,000 application fee and $200,000 license fee.
The price for patients to obtain medical marijuana will be determined at a later point, once the state has determined how much its manufacture will cost.