How do I get medicinal marijuana in New York?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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In the last several years, many states have implemented statutes authorizing the use of medical marijuana. Despite several attempts to pass medical marijuana statutes, New York is not one of these states. As such, you cannot get medical marijuana in the state of New York.

Options for Obtaining Medical Marijuana in New York

If you feel that you absolutely need medical marijuana, you have two general options: obtain medical marijuana illegally or establish a residence where medical marijuana is authorized. Before you choose the first option, you should understand all of the consequences associated with the illegal possession of marijuana, including medical marijuana. Follow this link for more information about New York Marijuana Laws and New York Medical Marijuana Laws. Similarly, before you uproot and relocate, you should review both the laws of states that authorize medical marijuana and overlapping federal statutes.

States that Authorize Medical Marijuana vs. New York

States that offer medical marijuana programs have their own guidelines and procedures for allowing the use of medicinal marijuana. In California, if you carry a Medical Marijuana Identification Card, you are not likely to be charged or even arrested for possessing marijuana. New York is distinctly different. The New York penal code does not provide exceptions for the possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Penalties for possession of medical marijuana are the same as those for possession of recreational marijuana.

Depending on the quantity of marijuana possessed, you could be convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, you could be confined to county jail or state prison, and you may be ordered to pay a fine. If the amount of marijuana that you possessed is under 25 grams, the New York penal code treats the offense like a civil citation instead of a criminal conviction. You are, however, still subject to a $100.00 fine for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

Relocating to a State Where Medical Marijuana Use is Legal

If you feel that you need medical marijuana, there is the option of moving to a state that authorizes the use of medical marijuana. Before you do, you should review the requirements of medical marijuana programs in that state as they may vary per county or community. Depending on that state’s laws, a doctor might be limited in what they can prescribe medicinal marijuana for, they might not be able to offer you medical marijuana for your condition. Your New York doctor’s opinion can help, but the opinion of the doctor in the other state will be the final say.

Federal Laws and Medical Marijuana Use

It might be frustrating for some that New York has not joined the movement of medical marijuana reform that many other states have. However, the issue will be moot as long as state and federal laws conflict. Even though you can possess medical marijuana in California pursuant to state medical marijuana laws, you are considered in violation of federal statutes. Marijuana is still illegal and prosecuted following federal laws. You could end up relocating to another state only to be convicted of possession of marijuana by federal prosecutors.

Getting Help

If you are seriously considering the use of medical marijuana, consult with a drug attorney or criminal defense attorney before you expose yourself to criminal liability in New York. A drug attorney or criminal defense lawyer can provide you with the latest updates in medical marijuana enforcement procedures and penalties. From there, you can make a decision on how, where and if you should possess medical marijuana in the state of New York.

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