State health department officials plan to announce this week the five companies chosen to run medical marijuana dispensaries in New York. (Among them could be the Colorado-based Mindful Medical, which is proposing to open a facility in Sunset Park and just received full support from Community Board 7.) Those dispensaries are expected to open their doors by January 1, 2016.
That is, however, no reason you shouldn't start reviewing the rules you'll have to obey to buy cannabis in this state, which, some say, has among the country's strictest regulations governing the distribution of weed for medical purposes.
Here are a few things you will need to know before purchasing pot at one of the 20 dispensaries set to open in New York:
► So far, the medical conditions approved for marijuana prescriptions are limited to cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord tissue damage, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies and Huntington's disease. The Department of Health can add medical conditions to this list as it sees fit.
► To register as a patient eligible to purchase marijuana, you'll need to get certification from your doctor demonstrating your medical need and detailing your prescription. You'll also have to be a New York resident, or a patient receiving treatment in the state.
► If you meet those requirements, you'll have to apply for a registry identification card. The ID costs $50, but that fee can be waived or reduced in cases of financial hardship.
► You won't be smoking the pot you buy. Dispensaries will sell no larger than 30-day supplies of marijuana in the form of oils, pills, or tinctures.
► Leave your kids at home. Bringing your children to a dispensary is prohibited, with the exception of special circumstances.
► If you can't pick up your prescription yourself, you can designate one or two caregivers to collect it on your behalf.
► Have questions, concerns? You'll be able to consult with the pharmacy techs and pharmacists working at your dispensary.
► When you leave, conforming to all the rules listed above means you won't have to worry about the NYPD fining or arresting you for the possession of marijuana.