As of January 5, some medical patients in New York will have access to medical marijuana for the first time. While the number of dispensaries remains in flux, at least one provider is going the extra mile to find a market. In an NBC News story on Dec. 30, it was announced that Vireo Health had its non-smokable marijuana products “certified as conforming to the Jewish dietary law.” Yes, there will be kosher marijuana available for those who need it.
Vireo Health New York told CNBC on Dec. 22 that it had harvested its first legal marijuana grown in New York in November. A spokesperson estimated that the average patient will spend about $300 a month, which will not be covered by health insurance. Vireo hopes to have four dispensaries open but Politico noted that there is push back in some locations.
Vireo is facing questions about the location of its Queens dispensary Politico reported Oct.26. It was just one of many that were being resisted by local communities. It is possible that the 20 anticipated dispensaries throughout New York could be far fewer on January 5, when they are supposed to open.
The process for a patient to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana begins with the physician. The doctor must meet several qualifications, including having completed a four hour course, be licensed and in good standing in New York and be qualified to treat the medical conditions for which marijuana has been approved.
At this moment, medical marijuana is approved for patients with “cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease.” One or more of those illnesses must be accompanied by “cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms.” The Department of Health does have the authority to add to this list in the future.
Once an eligible physician certifies a patient for the medical use of marijuana, that patient must register on-line. They will then be mailed an identification card. The card will allow the patient to buy from any of the registered dispensaries.
Marijuana remains an illegal drug under Federal law. Purchases not made from one of the 20 dispensaries are not considered medical marijuana and fall under New York drug laws. None of the products sold by New York medical marijuana dispensaries can be smoked.