Questions about New York’s Medical Marijuana Program?

Patient Education Facilitator
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 9:22am

In 2015, New York State (NYS) became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana, and the program continues to grow. People can register with the program if they have a qualifying condition, such as cancer, and are having severe symptoms such as cachexia (weakness, muscle wasting, loss of appetite or weight), chronic pain, nausea, seizures or muscle spasms. In March 2017, chronic pain itself became a qualifying condition. Since then, the number of certified patients has increased by 77 percent, to more than 26,000.

Patients must be certified for the program by a practitioner who has completed a course approved by the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) and registered with NYSDOH.

How Does it Work?

  1. Qualify. Talk to your practitioner about whether you qualify. Cancer is a qualifying condition with any of the severe symptoms listed above. See the full list of qualifying conditions.
  2. Get Certified. If your practitioner is not registered with the program, use the list of registered practitioners in New York to see who is available in your county. Note: Not all registered practitioners opted to be listed publicly.
  3. Get an ID. Once certified, apply to the NYSDOH for a registry identification card. During registration, you may list one or two caregivers who could be authorized to get, possess and administer the medical marijuana on your behalf. These caregivers must also register and get an ID card.
  4. Get Your Product. With your ID card, you must go to a registered dispensing facility and buy medical-grade marijuana products. Registered organizations must meet high product-quality standards set by NY, including verification of the levels of active ingredients (THC and CBD) and screening for contaminants and pesticides.

On August 8, NYS announced program changes to improve access, pricing and availability for patients and ease the requirements for practitioners. The number of registered organizations authorized to manufacture and dispense the products was doubled, from five to ten, and the mandated course for practitioners will be two hours instead of four. Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) may now certify patients, and home delivery is allowed.

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Roswell Park’s medical marijuana policy addresses the needs and concerns of patients, caregivers and practitioners who are registered with the NYS Medical Marijuana Program and the Roswell Park staff. A few noteworthy specifics:

  • Roswell Park’s no-smoking policy includes e-cigarettes, so inhaled or vaporized marijuana products cannot be used on the hospital’s grounds.
  • Patients using medical marijuana will need to sign a waiver and release-of-liability form that states, among other things, that they or their caregivers have a valid registry ID from NYS and will self-administer the products.
  • If your medical marijuana product comes from another state, it is not legal in NYS even if it is legal in your home state.
  • The policy also outlines the procedures that staff need to follow when a patient registered in the NYS program wishes to self-administer their legally obtained medical marijuana products while an inpatient at Roswell Park. The expectation is that self-administration is the responsibility of the registered patient or caregiver, not the nursing staff.

Helpful Resources

If you still have questions, contact the NYS Medical Marijuana Program at 866-811-7957 or email

Legal Medical Marijuana Products in NYS (Must be purchased at registered dispensing facility.)

  • Liquids or oils that are placed in the mouth or under the tongue
  • Liquids or oils inhaled using a vaporizer (Use not permitted on Roswell Park campus.)
  • Capsules taken by mouth
  • Topicals, such as lotions, ointments and patches*
  • Solids and semi-solids, including chewable and effervescent tablets and lozenges*
  • Certain non-smokable forms of the ground plant* (Smokable products are banned.)

*Added August 8, 2017