Cona Elder Law


In High Demand: The Implications of Recreational Marijuana & CBD Use in New York Skilled Nursing Facilities

In recent years, New York State has joined a growing number of states loosening restrictions on the use of marijuana. First, in 2014, New York enacted the Compassionate Care Act, which permitted the use of marijuana for medical purposes among patients who suffer from certain qualifying conditions. More recently, the legislature passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which not only expanded the medical marijuana program but also legalized the manufacture and sale of marijuana to adults for recreational purposes beginning in 2022.

For nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities, however, New York’s new marijuana laws present a tricky problem. In addition to state law, these facilities are required to comply with federal law as a condition of the federal funding they receive. Currently, the Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, a category reserved for highly addictive controlled substances with no federally accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, including heroin and LSD. Despite a recent push to liberalize the laws, the manufacture, use, and possession of recreational marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and those found to be in violation may be subject to enforcement measures including, but not limited to, a loss of federal funding.

On April 30, 2024, the Biden administration moved to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III substance, a significantly lower risk category that also includes prescription drugs like ketamine, testosterone, and Tylenol with codeine. It is important to note that the change in policy must still undergo a lengthy formal rulemaking process before it can take effect. Moreover, while the shift may impact the severity of federal penalties, it does not decriminalize marijuana. Nursing homes and other facilities that receive federal funding must continue to carefully balance their obligations under federal laws and state laws regarding the use of both medicinal and recreational marijuana.

Cona Elder Law’s experienced attorneys continue to monitor the most recent developments regarding this issue and other important legal matters concerning the nursing home industry.  Contact us at 631.390.5000 or click here to learn more about how our firm can help your facility preserve its bottom line and ensure your ability to continue to provide quality services to your nursing home residents.

This article was recently featured in Leading Age New York’s May Newsletter.

About the Author Cona Elder Law

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