New York’s medical marijuana program finally launched but still too restrictive


Last update: January 11, 2016


On January 7, 2016, after a year and a half wait, New York’s first eight dispensaries finally opened.

While it’s an important step forward, there are still several problems — marijuana can only be recommended by registered doctors who have taken a costly 4.5 hour course on medical cannabis, and only 150 patients have registered thus far.  The law falls short in several other areas as well — it leaves out several serious conditions, will not allow patients to smoke cannabis, and allows very few producers and dispensaries.

Dedicated Assemblyman Richard Gottfried continues his efforts to improve the bill and ensure that it allows access to medical marijuana to the New Yorkers who can benefit from it. Meanwhile, the health commissioner has the authority to approve additional conditions and is currently considering adding PTSD.


New York City to finally comply with 1977 decrim


New York was one of the first states in the nation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. Unfortunately, in recent years, the “public view” exception to the law was widely abused by police officers, who ordered tens of thousands of people, mostly young people of color, to empty their pockets.  Once the marijuana was in public view, they could be arrested.

The tide finally began to turn when Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson announced his office would stop prosecuting low-level marijuana possession cases. In November 2014, Mayor Bill DeBlasio followed suit, ordering the New York Police Department to stop arresting people for marijuana possession and instead issue civil citations. This will finally bring the city police in line with state law since 1977.



Still, Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes have proposed a more comprehensive fix to New York’s unfair and wasteful marijuana laws — legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol. Let your legislators know it’s time to stop punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.

 Stay connected


Thank you for supporting MPP. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in New York, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.

Pending Legislation