New York expands easier access to medical Marijuana Program

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on September 01, 2016.

New York State will soon expand its medical marijuana program to help better meet patient need and improve accessibility, health officials announced on Tuesday.

The state’s new policies were recommended by the Department of Health, which includes home delivery of marijuana to patients too ill to travel and enabling nurse practitioners to certify patients for the marijuana program.

The state’s Department of Health said that the new recommendations were a result of the statewide assessment and that the guidelines will improve the drug’s access for patients who are suffering from serious and life-threatening diseases including cancer, HIV and AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

"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," Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement.

New York opened its first medicinal marijuana dispensaries in January. Initially, the program allowed only doctors with special training to prescribe cannabis to qualified patients with very serious and terminal illnesses. Patients or their caretakers were required to visit the state's small handful of dispensaries to purchase marijuana products. Besides, medical marijuana patients in New York cannot smoke the plant.

Under the new measures, the state will allow nurse practitioners to qualify patients for medical marijuana use and allow home delivery of the drug to patients too ill to visit a clinic. It will also expand financial aid and consider a proposal to allow those suffering from chronic pain to receive prescriptions.

In addition, the state is expected to add more conditions to the list of those that qualify a patient for medical marijuana use, which includes Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD and similar mental health issues. More brands of the marijuana drug will also be considered, said the health officials.

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