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New Bills Would Expand New York Medical Marijuana Program

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Several bills have been submitted to New York’s medical marijuana program that would make big changes. The state has been dealt some stiff criticism from barriers to patient access to medicine. For this reason, Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried want to include nurse practitioners and physician assistants to the list of those that can write recommendations.

Several conditions, including Alzheimer’s, are also included in the bills. According to The Journal News, the bill would also create provisions to open 20 more dispensaries statewide and create a 15-member advisory panel. The advisory committee would work with appeals for patients denied medical marijuana certification.

Senator Savino said, “It’s been a little more than two months since the license holders have opened their doors, and we’ve had a chance to look at where the logjams are what’s getting in the way of patient access. What’s very clear is two things: The locations of the dispensaries because there’s such a limited number of them and the limited number of participating doctors.”

If the new bills are approved, the following conditions would be added to the qualifying conditions list in New York:

  • Wasting syndrome
  • PTSD
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Dystonia
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Traumatic brain injury

Industry-related businesses do have the opportunity to speak directly with physicians as a means of education. The hope is that more physicians would want to take the state-required training to certify patients to use medical marijuana.

Governor Cuomo’s office released a short statement, via spokesperson, that said, “We will review the bills.”

A memo included with the bill includes the statement, “Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (Pas) are fully authorized to write prescriptions for even the strongest and most dangerous controlled substances. They each work within legally defined scopes of practice, which would apply under this bill.”

If the bill passes, New York would also have to recognize out-of-state medical marijuana patients. The Governor’s office has not commented on its stance on the issue.

Assemblyman Gottfried said, “The program – as restricted in the legislation and restricted even more by (Department of Health) regulations – I think is almost guaranteed to not work very well, and I think that’s what we’re seeing. These bills would basically bring the medical marijuana program more in line with the rules governing other controlled substances, including drugs that are highly dangerous, which medical marijuana is not.”