New York Unveils Highly Restrictive Medical Weed Plans

December 19, 2014 | Bucky Turco

As New York cautiously inches towards implementing a medical weed program, the Department of Health released some of the groundwork for the state’s “medical marihuana [sic]” program that’s being proposed (PDF doc). The regulations are every bit as restrictive as imagined — and for some families, not timely enough, forcing them to flee to other states to get their children better access to therapeutic cannabis.

The good news: There will be a high level of quality control, and the health department acknowledged that medical cannabis should be used to treat kids. The bad news: Everything else (even the positive parts of the program come with a lot of restrictions). Below are some of the tidbits.

Implementation date: Not until 2016.

Approved sicknesses: Only patients with serious medical conditions or the terminally ill can have access. The list includes: cancer, HIV, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, MS, “damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity,” epilepsy, IBD, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, Cachexia or wasting syndrome, “severe or chronic pain resulting in substantial limitation of function, severe nausea, seizures, and “severe or persistent muscle spasms.” The health commissioner can add at their discretion.

Organization: That’s the term being used to define dispensary owners and growers. “No person or entity shall produce, grow or sell medical marihuana or hold itself out as a New York State registered organization unless it has complied with article 33 of the public health law and this subpart and is registered by the department.”

Price: The cost of medical weed will ultimately be set by the Department of Health.

Type of medical weed: Unlike virtually every other state, patients in New York will not get access to sticky buds or yummy edibles unless the health commissioner says otherwise. There will only be a few byproducts available: Liquid oil to ingest, “oil preparations for vaporization,” “capsules for oral administration,” and this curious statement: “[A]ny additional form and route of administration approved by the commissioner. Smoking not an approved route of administration.”

Classic rule for anyone in the weed game: Don’t “dispense approved medical marihuana products from the same location where the marihuana is grown or manufactured.”

Keep the menu small: “Each registered organization may initially produce up to five brands of medical marihuana product with prior approval of the department. These brands may be produced in multiple forms as approved by the commissioner. Thereafter, additional brands may be approved by the department. However, in no case shall marihuana in unprocessed whole flower form be made available to certified patients.”

Dosage: “The total amount of usable approved medical marihuana product that may be dispensed to the patient, in measurable controlled doses, which shall not exceed a thirty (30) day supply, if used as directed.”

Labeling: The final product must provide the “specific concentration of total Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and total Cannabidiol (CBD),” as well as THCV, CBDA, CBDV, CBN, CBG, and other acronyms.

Quality control: Don’t even think about growing moldy weed infested with mites. A “registered organization shall: use good agricultural practices (GAPs) and must conform to all applicable laws and rules of New York State.” Included in that rule is to “process the leaves and flowers of the female plant only” and to “perform visual inspection of the harvested plant material to ensure there is no mold, mildew, pests, rot or gray or black plant material.”

Please throw out the subpar weed, thanks: “Dispose of unusable medical marihuana products that have failed laboratory testing or any marihuana used in the manufacturing process as per the registered organization’s approved operating plan.”

No fake shit: “No synthetic marihuana additives shall be used in the production of any medical marihuana product.”

Testing: The New York Department of Health will test medicinal cannabis, a substance the federal government has categorized as an illegal, Schedule 1 drug that is “highly addictive” and has no “medical value.”

Keep away from kids, unless…: “KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN (unless medical marihuana product is being given to the child under a practitioner’s care.”

Advertising and marketing: All signage has to be toned down and tasteful, so no hippy stuff or neon letters outside the limited amount of dispensaries that will be allowed to operate: “Restrict external signage to a single sign, with only black and white colors.” Rules also say to “not illuminate, at any time, a sign advertising a marihuana product located on any physical structure.” The same goes for the company vehicle. As for actual ads, there’s lots of rules.

Names like AK-47, Alaskan Thunderfuck, Green Crack and the other ridiculous designations used for strains won’t be allowed: “For each brand offered, the registered organization shall only utilize a distinct name which has been approved by the department, consisting of only letters and/or numbers. The name shall not be coined or fanciful, and may not include any “street”, slang or other name. No reference shall be made to any specific medical condition.”’

Made in NY only: Organizations may “only manufacture and dispense approved medical marihuana products in an indoor, enclosed, secure facility located in New York State which may include greenhouses.”