The New York Health Department says that expansions to the medical marijuana program are coming. Home delivery by dispensaries, recommendations by nurses, more dispensaries, among other items, will be new options for New York medical marijuana patients that will likely be in place by the end of September.
The changes arose from complaints have poured in from patients, dispensary owners, legislators, and physicians about the restrictive program. An announcement of new policies was expected from Governor Cuomo’s administration on August 30, according to The New York Times.
The program will also expand to allow nurse practitioners to complete medical marijuana recommendations. Changes to regulations are subject to a 45-day comment period, according to New York state law.
Governor Cuomo’s attorney, Alphonso David, said, “We don’t want the federal government to come in and exercise an enormous amount of oversight and shut the entire program down. We’ve always been interested in expanding the program. We just wanted to make sure we had the data to support it.”
Once the changes are approved, they will take effect rather quickly. Once home delivery is approved, dispensaries will have one week to begin offering the service. The qualifying conditions list is expected to be expanded to include PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Health Department recommended a dozen changes to the state’s medical marijuana program. According to Governor Cuomo’s counsel, the state intends to integrate all of them over time. Suggestions include increasing the number of companies permitted to operate medical marijuana dispensaries to 10. Each of these companies would be permitted four dispensaries, which would bring the state’s number of dispensaries from 17 to 40. More brands of medical marijuana are also expected to be explored.
Kassandra Frederique, New York Drug Policy Alliance director said, “A lot of the recommendations that the Department of Health made are things that the patients have been asking for for a year and a half.”
Cost is an issue for patients, but will not be regulated according to the state. In regards to the changes, David said, “This is enhancing the program so that we meet patient need and patient access.”