A new medical cannabis service only days away from launching in New York will finally make it possible for residents to secure licenses from doctors. Doctors can now legally issue them exclusively online despite hurdles set up by the state.
Described as a “cannabis marketplace,” NuggMD is a telecommunications site that allows patients to consult licensed marijuana doctors without the hassle of an on-site appointment. Based in California, the company has set its sights on New York for expansion.
Ultimately, their plan is to provide NYS patients the same service that connected more than 40,000 patients in California with accredited physicians via online teleportal in 2016.
While the convenience of NuggMD’s medical service is apparent, cutting out the necessity for an on-site appointment serves another purpose. In effect, it bypasses regulations in place that make obtaining a license more difficult, which has been legal in New York since 2014.
Restrictions on Visibility and Service Access
Introduced and passed in 2015, the New York Telehealth Amendment Act (otherwise known as SB 2405) made it possible for registered health professionals to remotely issue medical marijuana certificates, providing telemedicinal support to patients. The legislation also revolutionized the definition of patient-physician relationships by nullifying the need for an in-person examination.
Despite the success of the bill, other factors such as basic access to doctors impede patient access. After certification, physicians in New York must register for the NYS Medical Marijuana Program, an extra hoop many are unwilling to jump through. As it stands, only 884 out of 110,000 professionals are currently registered.
On top of that, the New York Department of Health does not release the names of certified marijuana doctors. This makes it nearly impossible for patients to get the relief they desperately seek. And no doubt about it, the list of ailments is severe, ranging from cancer to ALS to Huntingdon’s disease.
“Barely 14,000 people legally have access to because of restrictions on the visibility and number of doctors,” CEO Collin Mann stated in a press release issued by NuggMD.
“This is a trend we’ve seen across the board in states with new marijuana laws on the books,” he continued. “Access should be feasible, but it’s not, and we’re going to change that. Our network of cannabis-expert doctors will accelerate that change.”
Connecting Patients With the Services They Need
Many NYS residents have stated their frustration at the loopholes they have faced for basic access.
“It’s frustrating that we can’t find a practitioner,” said Dr. Amy Piperato, “especially while knowing that children in different states have full access to this medicine.” Piperato, whose child suffers from epilepsy, is one of many NYS residents with few resources available.
Even more frustrating for some? The fact that parameters for acquiring a license have grown in spite of legislation. For instance: chronic pain was added to the list of illnesses that qualify for a license in 2017. This groups NYS with predecessors like California and Colorado.
If all goes according to plan, NuggMD’s service is set to provide an alternative to the system. Look out for their launch on April 18.