Is COVID-19 Destabilizing New York’s Cannabis Culture?

Is COVID-19 Destabilizing New York’s Cannabis Culture

The coronavirus has created havoc across the globe. And New York has become the epicenter of this public health crisis. It is one of the hardest-hit areas with more than 100,000 patients already infected with this novel coronavirus. The state’s hospitals are overburdened, and morgues are overwhelming with bodies. Even the healthcare workers are facing the heat now. And people who are looking for a medical cannabis card in New York have no idea if they can get their medication in the times of lockdown.

It feels like, “Bang!!! You have been hit.” No doubt about that.

The coronavirus is “truly vicious,” says New York Gov. Andrew. The case of New York is similar to “strengths turning into weakness” as the spatial closeness makes this vulnerable. And it’s not a short-term situation. It could take even a year to get things back to where it started. However, all of this has impacted the ongoing cannabis legalization plans and a lot of other propositions. Although, the City seems to have turned its faith towards medical marijuana cards.

Think I am exaggerating? Well, keep reading, and you will learn about the struggles of New York and how the people are coping with it.

New Yorkers Turning to Cannabis Amid The COVID-19 Hit

The City often referred to as the “Big Apple,” the sales of cannabis have gone through the roof. Within a few weeks of March, the sales alone rose by 50 percent in many states. Although New York is still illegal in this City, the people are helping to fuel the trend. The consumption of this product also saw a massive change as people have more time and stress is eating them. And the fear of the unknown is making them turn to cannabis to prioritize what’s important in their life.

However, during this crisis, the well-known dispensaries are shutting off their storefronts for purchases. Instead, they are urging people to turn to pickups or deliveries. Isn’t that the best way to ensure no one contracts the virus because of negligence? However, some stores like Brooklyn Arboretum sent a note to their clients, stating that they will be suspending deliveries in the wake of coronavirus spread.

Everyone indeed needs to understand that this particular virus is contagious, and no matter what you do, it will spread. So, social distancing and lockdown is the only hope to slow down the infection. However, that does not mean one will miss out on something that is helping them going in life. So, what’s this all about? Let’s find out in the next few lines.

Also, Read: 3 ways to share marijuana without transmitting coronavirus

Medical Marijuana Deliveries Deemed “Essential Services”

Like a few other states, including California, NPR reports that Gov. Andrew and Mayor Bill de Blasio made an important decision for the medical cannabis users in the state. They stated that dispensaries would be marked as essential services, like others, to keep on working amid the public health crisis. So, patients with the medical cannabis card in New York won’t have to worry about accessing their medicines anymore. They can call their dispensaries, place an order, and guess what, your medications will be home in no time.

Following those orders, New York state health regulators issued guidance declaring that any medical cannabis business will be licensed to work just like any other “medical provider.” So, the dispensaries were allowed to open even when other nonessential companies were ordered to close down. They strengthened the safety and health protocols for registered organizations and suggested the following actions.

Medical Dispensary Guidelines

First and foremost, only registered organizations can dispense goods from the faculty provided where they can maintain compliance with the ongoing laws, rules, and regulations. Again, only registered users can expand their delivery services statewide without seeking any written approval. And this directive will remain in place until the mid of April 2020. Also, if you are in the list of distributors, make sure to follow the recommendations issued by the state. For example, wearing masks and gloves, sanitizing, or washing hands after every delivery.

Also, they must ask patients to use their pens for signatures. You can also confirm the delivery using a phone call, text, or email instead of getting a signature. They are even asking storefronts to ask the patients to set up appointments, in case they wish to come to visit a dispensary. That way, they can avoid overcrowding a place.

But wait, there’s more…

The state’s health department is also encouraging businesses to use the practices for increasing sanitation of their facilities along with a measure to work with ill staff members. After all, in the end, it’s about public health and safety. And it needs to be taken care of at all times.

Now that we saw what’s changed in the state concerning medical cannabis and the importance of having a medical cannabis card in New York let’s talk a bit about the struggles now.

Also, Read- Here Are Four Things You Need to Learn Before Getting A Marijuana Card

Coronavirus Attack Puts a Halt to Ongoing Cannabis Legalization Plans

The gig economy and marijuana was something that the state officials wanted to work on. Also, with the ongoing issues of coronavirus infections among several state lawmakers, the session seems to be effectively over. The people of New York were hoping that something will change in the year 2020. However, amid the ongoing public health crisis, the chances of legalizing marijuana seem to be a dream one more time. It exactly fits the phrase here, “Man proposes, god, disposes.”

Imagine in the year 2019 when everything was in support of marijuana legalization. The issue got dropped because of severe disagreements over specifics such as tax revenue. This year was so optimistic about the prospects of marijuana legalization covering all the bases. But, the pandemic consumed the session’s attention. And one can not blame anyone this time. Having said that, the Gov. still thinks it is ultimately up to lawmakers to determine when to reconvene this year and tackle this issue of legalizing cannabis.

Final Thoughts

Having a medical marijuana card in New York is making the lives of thousands of patients stress-free since the government has allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open amid the COVID-19 attacks. However, the City is facing one of the worst pandemics where nothing seems to be working in their favor. The coronavirus is killing one person roughly four minutes in New York state. The state officials and healthcare providers are working day and night to get the situation under control.

After much hard work, the good news is that finally, the City is seeing some slow down in the number of cases for the first time in two months. The hopes are high that the City will get past these testing times and will get back to its normal mode.

For now, remember to follow the safety guidelines strictly. Practice social distancing and lockdown measures. #StayHomeStaySafe

Why is There Confusion Around The Use of Cannabis in the Workplace?

cannabis-in-the-workplace

Imagine working in America a few years back. A drug screening test showing marijuana use would result in losing a job. Or severe, an offense that could land you in jail or a penalty. And that’s just one side of the story. Many patients think that having a medical marijuana card New York will allow them to use cannabis at their workplace. No wonder why employers and employees are facing a lot of confusion because of inconsistencies around federal, state, local marijuana laws. So, the consequences of a positive marijuana test are not always clear.

It’s like it is illegal at the federal level. As per the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Nothing would change even if you come under the criteria of ADA that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations. Possessing or using marijuana would be a federal crime. But, more than 30 states legalized marijuana for medical purposes, with 13 states giving the nod for recreational cannabis is creating confusion.

The Classic Example of State Law vs. Federal Law

In New York City, lawmakers are trying to prohibit New York City employers from firing their employees using cannabis. As per the bill followed by the Council members, they banned marijuana drug testing. And it is believed that the Mayor is trying to change this bill into law. However, this will exclude companies dealing in health care, construction, and other fields such as child care. In the middle of this incredible support, the state lawmakers failed to bring recreational cannabis in the state of New York. The legal fights are getting more intense with firms working across the country. No one knows if using cannabis would cost them a job.

With such conflicting laws across the country, employers and employees are left with a lot of concerns. For instance, should they fire the employee using cannabis? Should they allow users with a medical marijuana card New York? The rules are evolving. Jurisdictions are passing laws that could protect marijuana users. But, still, there is no clear picture, especially when many Americans are switching to medical marijuana therapy. Public sentiments about marijuana are no longer as a product that could cause addictions.

Also, Read- Ways Of Medical Marijuana Consumption: New York Edition

Medical Marijuana State Laws For Workplace Not Consistent

First things first, no law obligates any company to allow marijuana use that could result in impairment. Even in the states maintaining support for marijuana, organizations have the right to disapprove of marijuana use when on duty. However, it solely depends on the state or local laws about such incidents.
For instance, more than 14 states (Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Oklahoma) where marijuana is legal for medical purposes, laws express their concerns about discriminating against medical marijuana users. In states like Maine and Nevada, where both medical and recreational weed is legal, they state regulators have taken one more step where employers can not make any decisions about employment based on their marijuana history.
However, most states are not clearing their take on addressing such situations, leaving both companies and employees in utter chaos. They are usually silent on the issue of employer accommodation. The problem is becoming a mess for the patients with medical marijuana card New York or any other marijuana-friendly state.
What Should be The Next Step?

The consistently evolving marijuana laws are presenting never-ending challenges for employers, especially those who have branches all over the country. They are unable to understand if they have to judge as per the federal, state, or local laws. While some employers are considering getting rid of the pre-employment testing, some are forced to abide by the federal regulations.

Also, Read- How Are Medical Marijuana New York Conditions Changing

As per the ongoing trends, lawmakers must consider marijuana as a part of the culture. Atleast for the ones who are using it for reducing their symptoms. Marijuana remains in any person’s system for days or even months. So, a positive test result can never imply that the employee is impaired in any way. It should not be a criterion for terminating anyone from their position.

Bottom Line

Many litigations are pending responses whether they should continue employing marijuana users or suspend them as per federal laws. What is the use of legalizing marijuana when people using it can’t keep their jobs? It’s like saying either choose marijuana or your finances. Nobody would want to use marijuana at the cost of their employment. There is a need for workplace changes in compliance with weed laws. For instance, companies must end zero-tolerance drug testing policies. They must update guidelines regarding off duty or off-premises marijuana use. They must consider turning to legal evaluators in case of any discrepancies.

Developing clear employment policies of marijuana can only minimize the confusion or any harm concerning the safety of others. Marijuana is the need of the hour, especially for the ones with a medical marijuana card New York. So, the companies need to change their perspective atleast in the legal states. That’s how one can start building a great future as the efforts to legalize marijuana across the country is pretty high.

How Are Medical Marijuana New York Conditions Changing

medical marijuana new york conditions

Learn the best tips to effectively incorporate it into your business strategy.

About 40 years ago, the state of New York decriminalized the possession of 25 grams of cannabis. That law is still applicable to this date. Then building up on that in the year 1977, you had New York’s Marijuana Reform Act, which made private possession a violation instead of a criminal offense. Also illegal? Possession in “Public view.”

So, why does cannabis possession still accounts for about 60 arrests per day? In the city alone, over 170,000 people faced prosecution for possession in 2017. This is disproportional amongst the different sections of the society where you are more likely to be arrested if you are a person of color than anyone else.

New York is still trailing behind the states in regards to marijuana. Medical Marijuana Card in New York also has its unique laws, and let’s not even get started on the state of legalization in the recreational arena.

But if you really need it as a medical necessity, make your way to a friendly physician, or some street retailers will be happy to oblige you. However, times are changing, and the cannabis story of New York is just starting.

The State Of Cannabis In New York Today

The Governor and Mayor of New York have both showed some amount of support for marijuana. Earlier, the Governor called it a gateway drug, so this was a surprising change. But this stance has changed primarily after the amount of support it managed to create in both the senate and house in New York.

For the Mayor, family history of alcohol and tobacco have been the reason behind not wanting to legalize the herb. A study to understand the pros and cons of permitting recreational cannabis was. The research, too, concluded that the benefits outweigh the cons.

In August 2019, a group of public safety and health officials got together to form a committee to devise the legislative recommendations regarding the issue. The suggested outline is more or less the same as the other states. If you are 21, then there are no restrictions, and smoking in public is prohibited. The other recommendations include establishing clear cannabis business zones, establishing safety standards for products, and expunging the records of low-level cannabis convictions.

How Illegal Is It Exactly

A jail trip is not what you would ideally earn for smoking in public. But if by any chance you have an open warrant in your name, are not carrying your ID, or been convicted of a violent crime, you could earn a trip to the nearest police precinct.

If you are clean, then the worst you could get is a ticket and a fine of $100. The ticket automatically implies that you have to show up in court. It will not show up on your record because it is a violation rather than an outright crime,

Selling still has more significant reparations than just possession. Possession with the intent to sell can get you a year behind bars and a $1000 fine. The same punishment is applicable to anyone caught growing any amount of marijuana.

Recreational Weed Status

The corner store is your best bet if you are hunting down recreational weed. There are rumors about a particular park that gets its name from an early American president, being quite the hub for independent cannabis peddlers. Due to that saturation of the market, you are just as likely to get good stuff as anywhere else. The best way to get your hands on high-quality weed still remains to get references through word of mouth.

If you don’t know anyone in the city, then check some online communities. The internet has various chats, forums, and subreddits that will be able to give you plenty of information about marijuana in the city. A couple of posts should get you the access you need to get your hands on some cannabis. However, be vigilant and only meet a new person for the first time in a safe, public place.

You have strains like Sour Diesel, Girl Scout Cookies, Super Lemon Haze, Headband, and Gorilla Glue available in the city. But it still has its drawbacks associated with it. Smoking in NYC is illegal, and there is no guarantee that you won’t receive a fine in the event of getting caught.

What About Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana achieved legalization in NYC in the year 2016. The following year dispensaries have cropped up all over the city. You have non-descript stores, so unless you are looking for them, you won’t see them. Smoking in NYC still remains illegal, no matter if it is for medical use. Instead, the dispensaries here specialize in tinctures, vapes, and pills — so no bud ( or flower, whatever you call it).

The rules that govern NYC to get a medical card are also extremely strict, and there are only a handful of conditions that make you eligible to get a card. The list includes nausea, seizures, severe muscle spasms, chronic pain, cancer, HIV/AIDS, MS, Parkinson’s, ALS, PTSD, and opioid use disorder.

Studies have recently shown that people who have opioid dependency can actually wean off with the help of marijuana. If you would have noticed the most common reason for justifying the use of cannabis -anxiety has been left off the list.

What About CBD?

Well, for a minute, it almost seemed like New York would have a revolution on the grocery shelves in the form of CBD. But before that could happen, the city legislation swooped in to ban all these products. CBD is still available in liquid form, but one has to add to their morning coffee themselves.

The Future

There were hopes that it would happen this year, but that did not happen. The legislation did pass a bill that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. A different proposal prevents employers from testing potential employees for marijuana.

There does not seem to be any hurry to pass the legalization ruling just yet. But, if and when it does get through the house, the groundwork will be strong.

Buzzing Questions About Marijuana in New York Answered

Buzzing Questions About Marijuana in New York Answered

When one talks about Marijuana in New York, they are hard-pressed to find any clarity on how and where the legislation stands on the issue. This is extremely dangerous, especially for medical users who are managing their pain via means of medical marijuana. There is also a long-standing question on how people are allowed to consume cannabis. You are not allowed to smoke marijuana, but the laws do allow for the consumption of edibles and vaping.

There is a lot of uncertainty on the extremely confused stance that allows for the consumption of marijuana. There is a bill that has called for the “decriminalization” of marijuana, but the full effects are still to
be seen.

Let’s examine the burning question regarding marijuana usage in New York.

What is the stance on recreational marijuana?

2019 brought with another year of no recreational marijuana for the citizens of New York, but then people were expecting it to be legal last year too. There is an expectation that there will be more attempts to do so. Why has there been such a fuss? It has been tough to come up with a middle ground that takes into account the minors who are the victims of the ongoing drug wars. Then there is the question of how the government handles the sale and distribution of marijuana. Should counties be allowed to refuse to sell, or should homegrown plants be allowed?

In case marijuana is deemed legal, who should be allowed to sell it.
This is the question that was the reason behind the death of the mandate last year as well. A significant number of advocates have accused the current administration of favoring the larger companies for the production and sale of marijuana.

Advocates are pushing for a three-tier system that is the alcohol companies have been utilizing, as this system effectively separates the manufacturing, retailing, and wholesaling in most cases.

On the Social front, advocates are also hoping for the legalization to help counties affected disproportionately by criminal enforcement. This is why the legalization bill last year was welcomed.

What about growing your own marijuana?

Another question that is acting like a big hindrance is the question of individual freedom to grow marijuana. The initial plan did not allow for home growing.
However, later proposals did show a particular leaning towards the possession of up to 6 plants for personal use.

Because of what energy-intensive process marijuana is, this does not seem to be something that the legislation would approve.

What does decriminalization mean?

There are two parts to this bill. One reduces the penalties for possession significantly; the other was the clearing the records of low-level convictions.

The charge for being in possession of cannabis has changed from a misdemeanor to a violation. This translates to a fine and not criminal charges. The second one would automatically lead to 500,000 people getting their records expunged.

One needs to understand that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Marijuana remains illegal, and growing and selling it is punishable by law.

What about CBD?

This was easily answered at the beginning of the year. But now it is muddled, as products containing CBD are not allowed, but that is still hazy. So edibles containing CBD are illegal, but this does not apply to topical oils, patches, tinctures, or other users. Medical Marijuana is also still allowed, but only for a particular list of issues.

So, there is a lot of shuffling taking place when it comes to the laws regarding marijuana usage in New York. The biggest issue that legislators are going through is the absence of a people’s mandate that usually helps the legislators in the creation of a bill allowing the use of marijuana in the state.

NYS’s New Amendment For Adding Hemp-Derived Products in MMJ Program

NYS’s New Amendment For Adding Hemp-Derived Products in MMJ Program

In New York, marijuana is allowed for medical use. Patients interested in buying cannabis products from medical dispensaries need to get medical marijuana cards in NY. Registered patients are allowed to hold a 30-day supply of marijuana products.

Also Read- Learn Medical Marijuana Laws & Legalization in New York

Two weeks ago, two New York State departments filed an amendment demanding MMJ businesses to provide hemp-based products such as CBD.

The amendment was introduced by the Department of Health & Agriculture and Markets, is aimed at enhancing the medical marijuana program in the state. Moreover, it is also designed for lowering manufacturing costs for licensed businesses. This will help patients get marijuana products at reasonable prices.

The department is responsible for managing the state’s medical marijuana program and is working for enhancing the program since it was introduced four years ago.

The commissioner Howard Zucker said, “This is yet another example that will help improve the program for patients and registered organizations.”

What is Hemp?

medical marijuana new york

Hemp is sativa plant species, which is grown especially for industrial uses. It has been used for a variety of purposes—protein, fiber, oils, and smokable portions. Hemp is usually divided into four categories—bast fibers, hurds/shives, leaves & flowers, and seeds.

The hemp plant produces a wide range of cannabinoids including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a psychoactive cannabinoid that causes high effects. However, the THC content isn’t enough for creating intoxicating effects.

It also produces non-intoxicating cannabinoids called CBD (cannabidiol) in rich amount. Hemp-derived CBD is getting popular as one of the most widely used therapeutic compounds in the market.

Proposal For New York’s MMJ Program

Regulatory amendments of subdivision (n) of section 1004.11 are necessary to allow registered organizations the ability to use extracts derived from hemp, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, as additives to the registered organization’s approved medical marihuana products. This use is limited to hemp and extracts derived from hemp, and only when grown and produced under the authority of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Allowing registered organizations to use hemp and its derivatives will help to reduce registered organizations’ manufacturing costs, thereby reducing costs to patients.”

Since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed to remove hemp from Schedule 1 Controlled Substances, there has been growing interest in hemp for various purposes—commercial, agricultural and medical.

Agriculture and Markets Department Commissioner Richard Ball said, “Since its launch, the state’s hemp research program has been tremendous interest from growers and processors, and this new regulation will provide our research partners with another market for their products. We support the continued growth of this emerging industry, which has opened the door to new opportunities in New York’s agricultural industry, as well as many other sectors.”

Recently, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) started accepting public comments on their proposed regulations for hemp in the state. The comment period will end on December 30. Additionally, the department released a webinar explaining the regulations listed in the draft.

The industry stakeholders are waiting for the regulations for CBD from the FDA. It may take some time. The former Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that it could take years for the agency to give regulations.

What do you think about New York’s proposed amendment to the medical marijuana program? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.