NY Health Department Calls for Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program
The New York State Department of Health issued a new report detailing what the state's marijuana program needs to do to improve its treatment of patients.
Two years after being implemented, there are some significant ways that the program could be amended to best suit residents of the state who rely on it, including doubling the number of numbers of suppliers: "To meet additional patient demand and increase access to medical marijuana throughout New York State, NYSDOH recommends registering five additional organizations over the next two years, using a phased-in approach to permit their smooth integration into the industry."
The demand for care for medical marijuana patients is extremely high; there are over 5,000 patients registered in the program, with 600 caregivers certified. Interestingly, this is an extraordinarily high number of physicians for a program this young. Many other states to have medical marijuana treatment still do not have a network of caregivers as large as our state, according to the report. One measure the report recommends to balance out the ratio is to allow nurse practitioners the right to certify patients, "consistent with their current authority to prescribe controlled substances (including opioids) for patients diagnosed with qualifying conditions covered in the Compassionate Care Act. 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."
Some other measures the report advocates in order to more effectively care for patients include allowing for home delivery, and encouraging the easing of federal restriction upon the research into the benefits of medical marijuana.
In order for any of these recommendations to be enacted, of course, they would first need to enabled into law by the legislature and approved by Governor Cuomo, who originally approved the Compassionate Care Act two years ago.