Lawmakers Consider Expanding New York Medical Marijuana

Authorities are seeking to double the number of companies that can legally produce marijuana in New York.

A report was released this week by the Department of Health detailing 12 proposed changes to the current medical marijuana program in New York. Currently, five companies are legally permitted to cultivate marijuana through 20 dispensaries in New York state. The report recommended 10 cultivators and 40 dispensaries to operate legally in the future.

New York’s medical marijuana program launched in January but has been marred by criticism from its inception.  Critics and patients have claimed that bureaucracy and red tape have caused many obstacles for patients seeking relief.

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There are a total of 601 physicians that are registered with the state’s medical marijuana program and can issue recommendations. Of those physicians, 366 (61 percent) are located in the downstate areas of New York City and Long Island.  A total of 4998 patients are registered in NY with 57 percent living in Long Island and NYC. Of the state’s 62 counties, 20 do not have a doctor who is permitted to recommend medical marijuana.

The report sought to address this issue by allowing nurse practitioners to recommend marijuana.  This could help patients in rural areas that do not have the ability to travel far away for a registered physician.

“Allowing NPs to issue certifications for medical marijuana would allow them to properly treat patients suffering from severe, debilitating or life threatening conditions, particularly in many rural counties where there are fewer physicians available to treat such ailments,” according to the report.

The report comes two years after Governor Andrew Cuomo originally signed the law into effect.  New York’s medical marijuana program is a bit more strict than other states.  The state does not permit flower consumption.  Only extracts such as vape oil and topicals are available to patients.  Only 10 life threatening conditions, such ALS and cancer are considered qualifying ailments for legal marijuana.

 

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