How Much Do You Know About Weed in New York? Here's a Glossary.

Marijuana leaf
Marijuana leaf

With New York's medical marijuana program due to take effect this January and with recreational weed looming on the horizon (maybe), everyone's talking about weed. Below is a list of important terms, names, companies, and political developments we thought you should know to be in on the conversation.

Bloomfield Industries Inc.: One of the five companies licensed to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York State. Bloomfield will grow cannabis in Queens and operate dispensaries out of Nassau, New York, Onondaga, and Erie counties.

Brand: A manufactured formulation of cannabinoids. Often called "strains," but known as brands under the language of New York's medical marijuana law; each dispensary will be allowed to sell five different brands of cannabis in the form of vaporizable oils, tinctures, sublingual strips, patches, and capsules. Smoking the plant will not be allowed.

Cannabinoid: A chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis contains dozens of cannabinoids, the most popular of which include THC and CBD.

Cannabis and Hemp Association (CHA): New York's first canna-business trade association for the medical marijuana, general adult use marijuana, and industrial and agricultural hemp industries. Spearheaded by Scott Giannotti, the CHA was founded in 2014 and continues to host weekly education meetups and monthly panels on various topics related to cannabis. 

CBD (cannabidiol): The second most prominent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. A non-psychotropic antioxidant and neuroprotectant, often useful in alleviating pain, inflammation, anxiety, psychosis, spasms, and seizures. CBD was made especially popular by Dr. Sanjay Gupta's documentary Weed, which featured a young girl, Charlotte Figi, suffering from Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy, who used a strain of high-CBD cannabis to bring her seizures down from four hundred to one or zero per week.

Cole Memorandum: A memorandum published by the Department of Justice in August 2013 that provides federal guidance on state marijuana programs. The memo upholds a hands-off approach for those compliant with state medical and recreational laws. However, federal prosecutions have continued even in "legal" states, in many cases deterring banks from taking clients in the cannabis business.

Columbia Care: One of the five companies licensed to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York State. Columbia Care will grow cannabis in Monroe and operate dispensaries out of Monroe, New York, Suffolk, and Clinton counties. 

Richard Gottfried
Caleb Ferguson

Compassionate Care Act: New York's medical marijuana law, introduced by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried in 1997 and finally passed in 2014. Under the program, five companies are licensed to grow medical marijuana and each operate four dispensaries, totaling twenty throughout the state's 55,000 square miles. Only ten conditions are covered under the law, including epilepsy and cancer, and each dispensary will carry only five brands of medical marijuana. Smoking the plant or eating it in the form of edibles like brownies will not be allowed. The Department of Health has the power to expand on the program but has not yet stated plans to do so.

Compassionate Care NY (CCNY): A project of the DPA, CCNY is a statewide group of patients, caregivers, and supporters working to facilitate access to medical marijuana. CCNY was very active in helping to pass New York's medical marijuana law and is now working to make sure it is implemented quickly and effectively. 

Cuomo, Andrew: Governor of New York who signed the Compassionate Care Act, after making several demands that limited the bill. This November, Cuomo also signed a bill to provide emergency access to medical marijuana to patients in dire need.

Decriminalization: In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio essentially decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis. In New York City, 25 grams of weed, or enough to roll approximately thirty joints, is a violation, likely accompanied by a summons and $100 fine. This follows the New York State Marijuana Reform Act of 1977, which decriminalized the possession of under 25 grams, so long as it wasn't burning or in public view.

Doctors Training Course: Under the Compassionate Care Act, any doctor wishing to recommend cannabis to his or her patients is required to complete the "New York State Practitioner Education — Medical Use of Marijuana Course." The online, four-hour course is available via TheAnswerPage, a medical education website, and costs $249.

Drug Policy Alliance (DPA): A national organization aimed at drug policy reform, rooted in science, health, and human rights. Julie Netherland, New York State deputy director, continues to be a leading advocate for medical marijuana and sensible cannabis policy reform in New York. 

Emergency Access Bill: A bill signed by Governor Cuomo in November that allows qualified patients in the most critical condition to legally obtain medical cannabis as soon as possible. The Department of Health would issue cards that provide those patients with protection from law enforcement and child services while New York's medical marijuana program is still being established.

Empire State NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws): The New York state chapter of NORML, a national organization aimed at the reform of marijuana law and policy. Members of Empire State NORML continue to be leading advocates for medical marijuana as well as for general adult use marijuana policy. 

Endocannabinoid system: A group of lipids, receptors, and enzymes throughout the body. Endocannabinoids regulate various physiological functions, including appetite, inflammation, pain, thermoregulations, sensation, metabolism, sleep, stress responses, mood, energy, and memory.

Etain LLC: One of the five companies licensed to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York State. All-female-operated by mother-daughter team of Amy, Hillary, and Keeley Peckham. Etain will grow cannabis in Warren and operate dispensaries out of Albany, Ulster, Westchester, and Onondaga counties.

From left: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Howard Zucker, Diane Savino, Kirsten Gillibrand
From left: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Howard Zucker, Diane Savino, Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand, Kirsten: U.S. senator from New York who co-authored the Carers Act, which proposes to federally reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II to allow for more government research, to recognize states’ rights in regulating their own marijuana policies, and to negotiate any remaining federal issues that block banks from working with cannabis businesses.

Gottfried, Richard: New York City assemblyman who originally introduced New York's Compassionate Care Act in 1997. Gottfried continues to be a vocal advocate for the reform of New York's medical and adult use cannabis laws.

Growing Community: An animated Web series about main character Steve, a "typical Jewish, neurotic Brooklynite," trying to grow weed in his Park Slope brownstone. The series, created by animator Will Levin, will air by the end of the year on Weedmaps TV.  

Hemp: Cannabis that contains less than .03 percent THC. Under the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States without special permission. Hemp is used for fiber, oil, seed foods, wax, cloth, paper, and fuel. Some hemp is grown to be ingested for its high CBD content.

High Maintenance: HBO Web series about a Brooklyn dealer who delivers weed to a wide variety of clients around the city. Created by husband-and-wife team Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, the show first aired in 2012 and has since racked up over 6 million views.  

High NY: New York's largest cannabis meetup, with about 1,020 members currently. Each month co-organizers Michael Zaytsev and Josh Weinstein host educational gatherings on a variety of topics, including "Pot and Parenting," "The History of Cannabis Prohibition," "Concentrates and Edibles," and "High Tech: Lessons from Silicon Valley for the Cannabis Industry." Guest speakers have included Dana Beal, longtime New York pot activist, Scott Greiper, founder of the cannabis business advisory group Viridian Capital Advisors, and Cy Scott, founder of the weed tech company Leafly. High NY also hosts the NYC Cannabis Film Festival. 

K2: Also sold as "Spice," "Green Giant," and "Caution," the synthetic drug is marketed as a marijuana alternative, intended to mimic the effects of THC, the main component in cannabis. The de Blasio administration has recently outlawed the sale of K2 following an epidemic of injurious side effects, particularly among Harlem's homeless population, in the summer of 2015.

Krueger, Liz: New York state senator from Manhattan who introduced the bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA): Introduced by Krueger in December 2013, the proposal aims to end New York's prohibition on marijuana and treat it similarly to alcohol, legalizing its production, use, and distribution for adults over 21.

New York Cannabis Alliance: Spearheaded by activist Evan Nison, also executive director of NORML New Jersey, the group continues to be a leading advocate for marijuana law reform in New York, both in regard to medical and general adult use. 

PharmaCann LLC: One of the five companies licensed to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York State. PharmaCann will grow cannabis in Erie and operate dispensaries out of Erie, Onondaga, Albany, and Bronx counties.

Phytocannabinoid: A cannabinoid, or chemical compound, that naturally occurs in the cannabis plant. Of the more than four hundred chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, only a few dozen have been identified as cannabinoids.

Recommendation: Essentially the same as a prescription. However, because medical marijuana is not an FDA-approved medication, doctors cannot write prescriptions for it, but only recommendations. 

Savino, Diane: Sponsor of the Compassionate Care Act who helped tailor the law to appeal to her colleagues in the state senate (which is more conservative than the assembly).

Strain: A variety of the cannabis plant. Many strains fall under the two main types of cannabis — indica (relaxing and calming) and sativa (cerebral and energetic) — and hybrid indica-sativa strains are bred for their various effects.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): The most dominant cannabinoid in cannabis. Responsible for feeling high, as well as several medicinal effects. Used to treat a variety of ailments including pain, mood disorders, sleep disorders, appetite loss, neurological disorders, and asthma.

Vireo Health of New York: One of the five companies licensed to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York State. Formerly known as Empire State Health Solutions. Vireo will grow cannabis in Fulton and dispense in Broome, Albany, Westchester, and Queens counties.

Zucker, Howard: Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, vested with the ability to expand on the Compassionate Care Act without having to pass new legislation in the assembly and senate. 

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >