The Department of Health just announced the issuance of new proposed regulations that would make changes to the state’s medical marijuana program to improve access. Among other things, they would reduce some of the onerous security requirements for registered organizations, shorten the length of the medical marijuana course certifying practitioners must take from four hours to two, and allow additional types of medical marijuana products to be sold.
New York’s medical marijuana program has been criticized by the Marijuana Policy Project and patient advocates as unnecessarily restrictive, and initial patient registration numbers were very low compared to other state medical marijuana programs. The Department of Health has made several changes to the program since it issued a report in August 2016, including adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition and allowing registered nurses and physician’s assistants to recommended medical marijuana.
The proposed regulatory changes can be viewed here.
Lawmakers have also been working to improve the medical marijuana program this session. In June, the Legislature passed a bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. Gov. Andrew Cuomo must still sign the bill in order for it to become law.
Statement from Kate Hintz, patient advocate:
Many of the patients I worked with to help pass New York’s medical marijuana law have been unable to benefit from the program due to high prices and the inability to find a medical professional who is participating. I’m hopeful that the reduction in burdens on practitioners will encourage more of them to participate, and that these regulatory changes will help registered organizations reduce their costs, with those savings then being passed on to patients.
Statement from Kate Bell, legislative counsel at the Marijuana Policy Project:
We are grateful to the Department of Health for listening to what patients need and working to expand the program and increase access to medical marijuana. Different patients benefit from different types of products, and we are glad that the new rules will allow a wider variety of choices. This is a great step toward reducing costs and improving patients’ options.