New York’s medical marijuana program has been off to a rough start. After a long battle to legalize medical marijuana, then a long battle to get New York’s medical marijuana to actually begin, the program has struggled due to being so restrictive. The last report I read put the total patient count for New York’s medical marijuana program at 14,000 patients. To put that into perspective, the State of New York has almost five times the population of Oregon, yet Oregon has nearly five times as many medical marijuana patients.
It’s not that New Yorkers don’t need medical marijuana, it’s that getting into New York’s medical marijuana program is very difficult given the limited number of qualifying conditions and the limited number of doctors willing to sign people up to the program. Two very big changes are happening to the New York medical marijuana program, with one of them taking effect yesterday. Per Times Union:
Physician assistants are now able to register with the state Department of Health to certify patients to take part in New York’s medical marijuana program, the DOH is to announce tomorrow.
That change took effect Wednesday.
Only PAs whose supervising physician also is registered to certify patients are eligible to register.
The other major change is expected to happen next week, when the State of New York adds ‘chronic pain’ to the list of qualifying conditions. Chronic pain is defined as “‘any severe debilitating pain that the practitioner determines degrades health and functional capability,” that has intolerable side effects, that has lasted for or is expected to last for at least three months, and that other therapy has failed to treat or that cannot be treated by another therapy because it would be harmful.”
Chronic pain is the most common condition that medical marijuana is recommended for. There are many conditions that are accompanied by chronic pain, and while a person’s primary condition may not qualify them to become a medical marijuana patient, chronic pain will. Adding this to the list of qualifying conditions will no doubt help patients in New York, as will increasing the number of people that can sign people up to New York’s medical marijuana program.