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Question: What are the Protections for Medical Marijuana Cannabis Patients in New York State?

Posted by David Holland | Apr 25, 2021 | 0 Comments


2014 – Compassionate Care Act – Public Health Law, Article 33, PHL 3360 – 3369-E

            -set up medical cannabis program for qualified patients who receive a recommendation for cannabis use from a qualified doctor. Under New York law, a medical patient with a certified condition is deemed to suffer from a ‘disability' and thus have entitle to enhanced protection from discrimination under the law.

Under Public Health Law 3369(1): “Certified Patient…shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupation or professional licensing board or bureau, solely for the certified medical use or manufacture of marijuana, or for any other action or conduct in accordance with this title.”

Public Health Law 3369(2), which addresses “Non-discrimination”: “Being a certified patient shall be deemed to be having a “disability” under Article fifteen of the executive law (human rights law), section forty-c of the civil rights law, sections 240.00, 485.00 and 485.05 of the penal law, and section 200.50 of the criminal procedure law. This subdivision shall not bar the enforcement of a policy prohibiting an employee from performing his or her employment duties while impaired by a controlled substance. This subdivision shall not require any person or entity to do any act that would put the person or entity in violation of federal law or cause it to lose a federal contract or funding.” [Emphasis Added].


Section 127 - Protections for the use of cannabis; unlawful discriminations prohibited.

Section 127(1) – “No person, registered organization, licensee or permittee, employees, or their agents shall be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil liability or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or office, solely for conduct permitted under this chapter. For the avoidance of doubt, the appellate division of the supreme court of the state of New York, and any disciplinary or character and fitness committees established by law are occupational and professional licensing boards within the meaning of this section. State or local law enforcement agencies shall not cooperate with or provide assistance to the government of the United States or any agency thereof in enforcing the federal controlled substances act solely for actions consistent with this chapter, except as pursuant to a valid court order.”

MRTA, Art. 6, Section 127(1)

About the Author

David Holland

As Executive Director of Empire State NORML and President of the New York City Cannabis Industry Association, David has been a leading advocate in the cannabis space for over 20 years. He has represented clients in marijuana related proceedings everywhere from traffic court to the United States Supreme Court, and he helped obtain clemency for five elderly prisoners servicing life without parole for marijuana. David also handles complex civil and criminal litigation in other areas including employment, First Amendment, and business.


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