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Clearing The Air


Who has access to medical marijuana in New York State?

The law, which takes effect on January 5 of this year, makes persons eligible to use medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed with one of the following conditions: 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.

Where and how do patients access medical marijuana in Westchester?

Patients who are certified by their practitioners as eligible must apply to the New York State Department of Health to obtain a registry identification card, which they’ll need in order to get medical marijuana. There will be two dispensaries in Westchester: one is Vireo Health of New York in White Plains (left), which opens in January; Etain LLC will be run out of Yonkers but has not advertised an opening date as of press time.

Will patients be smoking marijuana?

No. The smoking of marijuana is still illegal. The medications are required to be in either oil or capsule form.

Will insurance plans pay for medical marijuana?

No. Health insurance companies in New York State are not yet covering medical marijuana; patients will pay out of pocket.

Will patients taking the medication get high?

The companies licensed to dispense medical marijuana in New York State must all produce five products that will differ in concentration of certain cannabinoids. The medicine with the highest concentration of THC has the potential to make patients feel high. The medications lower on the THC spectrum and higher in CBD, though, will either be non-intoxicating or minimally intoxicating.  

Couldn’t unscrupulous patients sell their medicine, creating a black market?

It’s unlikely. The five products that will be sold by Vireo Health of New York will cost between $250 and $500, depending on dose and strength. This high cost should make resale prohibitive, as it is far more expensive than the street value of smokable marijuana.


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