New York state officials will add chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
The New York Department of Health will draft an amendment to its current medical marijuana program and submit it for public comment. The inclusion of chronic pain is expected to raise the number of qualifying marijuana patients significantly.
“After conducting a thorough review of the scientific literature, it became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker. “Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York State, and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program.”
Currently, New York allows for 10 conditions to qualify for medical marijuana. The list includes:
- Spinal damage
- Parkinson’s disease,
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
A new segment of patients could help alleviate some of the concerns on behalf of dispensary operators in New York. With a small number of patients eligible, shops that paid a high price to open their doors were left with little chance of recouping their investments.
Critics have also claimed that too few physicians have been registered to administer medical marijuana consultations. Some seeking medical marijuana are forced to travel hundreds of miles in New York’s vast upstate region. Many who are sick have trouble making these long trips. There are about 750 physicians who have been approved to provide marijuana recommendations. However, most of those physicians are in the densely populated New York City, Westchester, and Long Island areas.
State officials have tried to address this issue as well. There is a proposal to allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants be able to provide medical marijuana screenings. This is seen as a way to grant access for patients in rural areas with few registered physicians.