New York’s medical marijuana program is only three months old, but it’s already running into some serious problems. The state passed a law to make medical marijuana legal during the summer of 2014.
In 2015, it launched an online medical marijuana patient registry where people could start signing up to get their medical marijuana cards.
Then in January of this year, the state’s first dispensaries began selling medical marijuana products.
In the three months since, however, the program has left many patients unsatisfied and frustrated.
A lot of the problems stem from the fact that New York has only licensed five organizations to produce medical marijuana. On top of that, medical marijuana products can only be sold at 20 dispensaries in the entire state.
This has left many people unable to actually get the medicine they need even if they have a medical marijuana card and a prescription.
In many cases that means that patients are forced to buy more expensive products.
A man living in Syracuse, New York’s recently made headlines when he became frustrated by how expensive it is to get medical marijuana.
Brian Wieder is an AIDS patient. He moved to Syracuse in 2014 after living in California.
While in California he spent somewhere around $75 a month for smokeable medical marijuana. In New York, he’s forced to buy much more expensive vape pens.
On average, a vape pen in New York costs around $211. Wieder said he needs at least two of them to get him through a month.
That means he’ll now have to spend more than $400 every month.
“People will freak out when they go to the dispensary,” Wieder said. “They will have to bring hundreds of dollars with them.”
And one final problem many have pointed to is that the state has a very limited number of health conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.
So far, there are only 10 conditions that qualify. They include things like cancer, HIV or AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and a handful of others.
For many people interested in using medical marijuana, the end result of all this is that the program is simply too hard to use. And that means that in many cases the cannabis black market is still the best way to get marijuana.
“It’s easier to get weed on the street than in the dispensary,” New York City resident Sam Charles said shortly after the state launched its medical marijuana program.
“Everyone knows someone with number, and you can probably still buy it in the park.”
(Photo Credit: HighTimes)