The cannabis legalization creep is moving across the country (click here for a map), in a pattern that is neither linear nor logical. And like it or not, it seems that medical marijuana will soon make its NYC debut.
In July 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature enacted the Compassionate Care Act,” to provide a comprehensive, safe and effective medical marijuana program that meets the needs of New Yorkers.” But there were a lot of compromises made to the bill to get it passed.
This summer, the state awarded licenses to five companies to grow and dispense mmj in New York State, yet the commencement of the program was dragging, until Gov Cuomo recently signed an emergency access bill to get the the program up and running by January 2016.
New York City has recently seen a partial decriminalized of marijuana, which means that cops no longer arrest smokers, but instead, issue a summons to appear in court. As you might expect, that enforcement is still skewed racially, as Vice Magazine pointed out. If you’re white in NYC, it’s virtually legal to smoke some sticky, while if you’re Black or Latino, it’s a $100 summons and a day in court, even if you can’t afford the fine or the day off from your job to go to see the judge.
It’s a lot of heated conversation around decriminalized and legalized marijuana. Though those conversations come in a few varieties, I’m simply trying to point out some of the key tenants of the legalized landscape, for medical marijuana use in NYC, so you can be informed.
The First Dispensary Opens In January 2016
Currently, you can get off the subway at the Union Square station to hear anarchist barking propaganda, see skateboarders popping ollies off the park stairs and stare at fashion models killing time between appointments. Soon, beginning January 2016, you can also cop some medical marijuana.
Actually just east of Union Square on 14th Street, between 2nd & 3rd avenues, is where Columbia Care, one of the five companies awarded state licenses to run a dispensary in NYS, will set up shop to pump that medical cannabis.
No Medical Weed Smoking In Brooklyn
This is actually for two reasons: 1. It was early speculation that Pallia Tech Inc., a producer of marijuana-based pain medications, would get a license, and they were looking at commercial space in downtown Brooklyn. Turns out they missed the cut, and the companies that were awarded licenses, choose to skip Kings County.
2. There also won’t be any medical weed smoking in NYS, because, as quoted from the NY State Medical Marijuana website, “The Compassionate Care Act expressly provides that a certified medical use of marijuana does not include smoking”. Oils, tinctures, extracts, vaporizer, etc, are the forms that will be available at the dispensaries. So no medical puff puff pass for anybody.
A Medical Marijuana Card Will Be Hard To Get
The stories of getting a mmj card, because you feel anxious, will not fly in NYS. You’re gonna need a real serious illness or severe debilitation to get a card. I’m talking HIV/Aids, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, severe/chronic pain, etc. Though that list can seem “crappy” to some, if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you also quality.
(Something tells me that a few politicians wrote that particular disease into the Comprehensive Care Act for personal reasons!)
Insurance Won’t Cover Medical Marijuana, and The Price Has Yet To Be Set
Not even Obamacare can cover your mmj, which is a sticky topic, because many people that need it will not be able to afford it. The FDA has not approved cannabis as medicine. So doctors can recommend it, but not prescribe it. If insurance won’t cover it, you will have to reach into your pockets to purchase your pot and you might have to reach deep in New York City.
In an article from Cannabis Wire, Julie Netherland, deputy state director for the New York policy office of the Drug Policy Alliance, which worked to pass the New York medical cannabis law through the Compassionate Care NY Campaign, said that the price is supposed to be based on the cost of production of the dispensaries. But unlike other states, the health department will set the price in New York. There are many variables that go into the pricing, but if history serves as teacher, medical marijuana, when only available in oil and tincture, will be expensive.
They Won’t Deliver
Brooklyn is big on delivery culture. In fact, I know people that have everything delivered from groceries, cooked food, booze and their laundry. Unfortunately, medical marijuana is not amongst the items that can be delivered. If you need marijuana for medical purposes, and you’ve been getting deliveries on the black market, know that this is a whole different ball game.
So that’s it in a nutshell. Medical marijuana is coming in 2016, but it might not be everything it’s cracked up to be.