The New York State Department of Health has issued regulations implementing the State’s medical marijuana law, enacted last July.  (See post, New York Becomes 23rd State to Enact Medical Marijuana Law, July 10, 2014).

Published April 15 in the State Register, the regulations allow the use of marijuana for patients with cancer, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and Huntington’s Disease, and symptoms including severe or chronic pain, surgeries, severe nausea, persistent muscle spasms and wasting syndrome, who comply with the rules. The Commissioner of Health may add other conditions, symptoms or complications, under the regulations.

In accordance with the law, those patients will be able to use only non-smokable forms or marijuana, to be ingested or vaporized. “Smoking is not an approved route of administration.” However, even vaporization is banned in public places, and in no case may approved medical marijuana be consumed through vaporization in locations where smoking would be prohibited by the State’s Public Health Law, including places of employment. Products authorized by the regulations are restricted to liquids, oils or capsules. Unless the Commissioner approves, approved marijuana products may not be incorporated into edible food products by a registered organization.

Only five businesses or non-profits in the State may be licensed to grow, process of distribute approved marijuana. Each such enterprise may have four dispensing facilities. The Commissioner can consider permitting more dispensing facilities.

While implementation will not be immediate, employers should prepare for responding to employees taking marijuana under the law and regulations.