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Compassionate Care Act (Medical Marijuana)

On July 5, 2014, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act. The Act will allow the purchase and possession of certain cannabis-based products under very limited medical circumstances. The New York State Department of Health is currently developing rules for the program, which should be implemented within 18 months of it becoming law.

The law will cover only certain marijuana products for people with certain conditions who go through a designated process.  Marijuana possession outside the narrow confines of this law will still result in criminal charges.

Queens Attorney Discusses Medical Marijuana Law

Any person who is charged with a crime or violation in New York City relating to marijuana should talk to a dedicated lawyer, whether or not they believe they are covered under the state’s upcoming Compassionate Care Act. As a Queens marijuana defense attorney, Rochelle Berliner stays up-to-date on all laws pertaining to cannabis, and will be able to help you build the strongest strategy to fight prosecutors.

Call 718-261-5600 today to set up a free consultation. Ms. Berliner represents clients throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Details on New York's Compassionate Care Act

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What the Compassionate Care Act Will Do

Medical marijuana is not currently legal in New York State. The State Department of Health has issued proposed rules for enacting the Compassionate Care Act. Once adopted, cannabis will be legal if the requirements are met.

Under the proposed rules, to become a certified patient, a person must:

  • Be a resident of or receive care and treatment and be temporarily residing in New York; and
  • Possess a certification from a registered practitioner.

To obtain the certification, a patient must go to a physician registered to give certifications for medical marijuana. The practitioner must diagnose the patient with:

  • Cancer
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Neuropathies

Additionally, they must have a symptom or condition associated with one of the above conditions, including:

  • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
  • Severe Nausea
  • Severe or Chronic Pain
  • Severe or Persistent Muscle Spasms
  • Seizures

If a patient meets the requirements, he or she may apply for a registry identification card.

To be able to give the certification to patients, a practitioner must be a licensed physician in good standing in the state of New York. He or she must attend a four-hour course and be granted a registration by the Department of Health.

A very limited number of “registered organizations” – only five – will be allowed to manufacture marijuana products. Each organization may only have up to four dispensaries, and they must be geographically dispersed to serve rural areas of the state. This means patients will only be able to obtain medical cannabis at one of 20 locations, only a few of which may be in New York City. A person may not, under the law, grow his or her own marijuana.

The marijuana must be in capsule, oil or liquid form. Smokeable forms are strictly prohibited by the rules.

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What New York Medical Marijuana Law Will Not Do

Cannabis will remain a substance controlled by law. Possession outside the narrow confines of the Act will remain illegal. In the following circumstances, possession is against the law:

  • The patient has not been able to obtain a registry identification card yet, but desperately needs marijuana for a condition recognized by the law.
  • The patient has a recognized condition and no card, but obtained the marijuana legally in another state.
  • The patient has an identification card, but obtained marijuana from a dealer because it is difficult for him or her to get to a legal dispensary.

Possession of less than 25 grams will remain a noncriminal violation with a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second and $250 for a third or subsequent offense. Possession of more than 25 grams remains a criminal offense. Possession of 25 grams to 2 ounces is a Class B misdemeanor. Two to 8 ounces is a Class A misdemeanor, and any more is a felony.

It’s important to speak to an attorney if you have been arrested or cited for any marijuana-related offense, including if you were arrested or cited for whatever reason as a cardholder who obtained marijuana legally once the law is enacted. A lawyer can help identify the best possible defense for you, whether that be related to the Compassionate Care Act, an illegal search and seizure or anything else that occurred.

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New York City Attorney for Medical Marijuana Cases

If you are arrested or cited in New York City for a marijuana charge and were using the cannabis for medical purposes, you will want highly experienced legal counsel. Queens criminal defense lawyer Rochelle Berliner can find the best possible defense for you.

Call 718-261-5600 or submit an online form to schedule a free consultation that will allow Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner to review your case.

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Rochelle Berliner
Rochelle Berliner

Rochelle Berliner grew up in Queens, NY. She started New York Law School in January 1989 and graduated in June 1991. Immediately after law school, she started working at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she stayed for approximately 14 years...

  • National Police Accountability Project
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
  • New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
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