NYS expands medical marijuana access

Aug 31, 2016

New York State is expanding its medical marijuana program.

The state's Department of Health announced that it will soon allow nurse practitioners to authorize the drug for patients and allow dispensaries to make deliveries to help patients who cannot leave their homes. Additionally, the state will consider whether to make chronic pain a condition eligible for marijuana and begin plans for more dispensaries around the state.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

Nurse practitioners already can write prescriptions for other drugs, including narcotics and other controlled substances.

“Allowing nurse practitioners to participate in New York’s program will provide greater access to New Yorkers of all ages and health conditions, since these New Yorkers are increasingly choosing a nurse practitioner as their health care provider,” said Stephen Ferrara, executive director of the Nurse Practitioner Association NYS.  

More changes increasing access are in the works. Among them, the Health Department has already initiated the regulatory proposal process necessary to authorize nurse practitioners to certify patients for medical marijuana. The proposed regulatory amendments will be published in the New York State Register on September 14 and will be subject to a 45-day public comment period.

Within the next week, the Health Department will issue guidance to marijuana dispensaries outlining requirements that must be addressed in their home delivery plans. In many cases, patients with serious health conditions cannot leave their homes and have difficulty accessing medical marijuana products.

Dispensaries in the Buffalo area include Bloomfield Industries in Williamsville and PharmaCann in Amherst. These dispense allowable forms - extracts, tinctures, oils, edibles - of medical marijuana, including methods of consumption and strain, variety and strength.

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said more than 7,000 New Yorkers have been authorized for medical marijuana, while more than 675 physicians have been registered since the program began in January. He said the state will continue to look for ways to improve the program for patients and practitioners.

Under the program, patients with qualifying conditions can get a physician's permission to obtain non-smokable forms of marijuana at state-regulated dispensaries.