New York To Expand Medicinal Marijuana Program

Medicinal marijuana - New York
Image: BigStock

The New York State Department of Health announced last week it would improve access to medical cannabis for patients suffering from debilitating and life threatening conditions.

More than 7,000 patients have registered for the state’s program since it began in January this year, along  with in excess of 675 doctors.

To enable a greater number of patients to benefit from the initiative, one of the changes will be the ability for nurse practitioners to certify patients. A nurse practitioner is a nurse qualified to treat certain medical conditions without the direct supervision of a doctor.

“Allowing nurse practitioners to participate in New York’s program will provide greater access to New Yorkers of all ages and health conditions, since these New Yorkers are increasingly choosing a nurse practitioner as their health care provider,” said Stephen Ferrara, Executive Director of The Nurse Practitioner Association NYS.

This change will also help speed up registrations; but on that front New York is already doing pretty well. The average time from certification issued date to registration date dropped from 11.27 days in January to just 5.4 days in June.

Among other changes, the Department will allow registered organizations to offer home delivery services; which will be a huge positive for patients with serious health conditions who find it challenging to leave their homes.

The Department is also immediately expanding the financial hardship waiver for the $50 patient and caregiver application registration fee, looking at adding intractable pain to the list of qualifying conditions, streamlining manufacturing requirements and loosening up advertising regulations.

Additionally, it will register five more organizations over the next couple of years in order to meet additional patient demand for medical marijuana. Organisations that registered for the first round of licenses but were unsuccessful will be again reviewed for the next batch.

The Department will also examine regulations enabling healthcare facilities and schools to hold, secure, and administer medical marijuana in special circumstances.

“We are constantly evaluating the program to make it more effective for patients and practitioners, and we believe that the implementation of these recommendations will do just that,” said  Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

A full summary of the changes can be viewed here.

In other recent related news, the Department has released its 2-year report for the Medical Use of Marijuana Under the Compassionate Care Act; which can be viewed here (PDF).