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Home of the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the Baseball Hall of Fame and numerous Marvel Comics characters, New York is a state full of culture, nightlife, and tourism.

It's a place where a tourist might presume that cannabis could be freely and openly consumed and purchased. But while the country is quickly changing, with more states moving toward recreational marijuana legalization, New York isn't quite there yet.

So before you get baked to head out for a walking tour of all of Spider-Man's most memorable hangouts (yes, of course, that would include the Mary Jane upside-down kiss), here's what you need to know.

Where and How to Buy

Registered medical marijuana patients can purchase cannabis at dispensaries from any of the 10 Registered Organizations in the state. There are currently 40 dispensaries located or soon to be located in counties including New York, Monroe, Suffolk, Ulster, Onondaga, Westchester, Erie, Nassau, Orange, Queens, Clinton, Albany, Bronx, Broome, Kings, Dutchess, Richmond, Chemung, Saratoga, Rockland, and Oneida. Delivery services are offered in some areas, including Albany, Rochester, Queens, New York City, and Brooklyn. Patients or their registered caregiver can purchase cannabis for medical use only. They must have a medical marijuana registry identification card. Patients younger than 18 can register for an ID card with an application submitted by an adult 21 or older and designating at least one caregiver.

Photo via Gina Coleman/WM News

How to Consume

Health conditions that can make people eligible for medical marijuana use and purchase include a diagnosis of one or more severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions, including:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huntington's disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Spinal cord injury with spasticity
  • Substance use disorder

The patient must also have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Chronic or severe pain
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe or persistent muscle spasms

Smoking flower and consuming edibles aren't allowed, but other forms of consumption are approved, including:

  • Metered liquid or oil preparations for vaporization or oral administration
  • Metered ground plant preparations
  • Solid or semisolid dosage forms such as capsules, tablets, and lozenges
  • Topicals
  • Transdermal patches

Registered marijuana patients can have up to a 30-day supply at any given time.

What Isn't Allowed

  • Recreational use of marijuana is currently illegal.
  • Smoking marijuana and consuming edibles aren't permitted, even for medical patients.
  • Home cultivation is illegal.  
  • Vaping medical cannabis in any public or commercial space where the law prohibits smoking is illegal. It is illegal to vape a medical marijuana product within 100 feet of entrances, exits, or outdoor areas of any public or private school unless it is on private property.
  • Using medical cannabis in motor vehicles, either on public or private roads, or in any parking lot, is illegal.

First-Time Use

Registered patients should make sure to ask their doctors of possible effects of marijuana and what to expect in terms of their particular condition. The general rule when it comes to first-time use is to start low and go slow. Each form of ingestion is different, so asking dispensary budtenders about specific products can go a long way toward having a much more fulfilling experience. Medical cannabis company Vireo Health, one of the state's registered organizations offers a useful searchable FAQ database of common cannabis questions.

Cannabis Legalization in New York

Marijuana was partially decriminalized in the state in 1977 with possession of 25 grams, or 0.88 ounces, or less resulting in an infraction, with up to a $100 fine. In July 2014, Senate Bill S 7923 legalized medical marijuana. In January 2018, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo commissioned a study to assess the impact of a regulated marijuana program in the state. It found that “the positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in [New York] outweigh the potential negative impacts.” The state Legislature may again take up the issue of allowing adult-use cannabis.

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