The State Department of Health released an official statement late last week announcing four changes New York is proposing to the medical marijuana program as it currently stands.
The notice, which was headed by State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, emphasized the DOH’s redirected efforts to both better the standards already set in place, and to make medicinal cannabis more accessible to those who desperately need it for treatment. As it stands, New York state has one of the most restrictive medical weed programs in the country, which in turn affects availability.
“This is yet another positive step forward for New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program,” Zucker explained in the memo. “These regulations will continue to improve the program in several ways, including making new forms of medical marijuana available and improving the dispensing facility experience.”
With other changes afoot in the state—such as the opening of new dispensaries left and right, as well as the broadening parameters for what patients can be treated for—the state’s DOH proposal isn’t necessarily surprising, but certainly welcome news. So: what exactly are the changes New York is proposing to the medical marijuana program?
Diversifying Types of Products
One of the main directives for improving New York state’s medicinal cannabis program is to broaden the types of products they can offer—mainly anything that isn’t smokeable. In regards to this particular ordinance, commodities such as topicals—lotions, tablets, lozenges, patches, and more—would be obtainable. These products could be both manufactured and distributed within the state as long as they are held to strict testing standards, which can be viewed as a bonus: you know exactly what you’re getting, more or less.
Of course, not just any old product will be authorized for sale and distribution. The DOH would have the final say as to what can stay and what gets the boot.
Updating and Improving Dispensary and Facility Procedures
According to the proposal, physicians who are licensed to prescribe medicinal cannabis will be granted more direct access to RO representatives. What does this mean? Essentially, practitioners would hypothetically be able to get information on products without going through a bureaucratic system riddled with middlemen. Patients will also be able to visit both with a person who is not a designated caregiver, making it easier for them to obtain the products they’re prescribed.
PTSD Now Qualifies as a Condition for Cannabis Use
Following in the footsteps of states like Minnesota, New York legislators ruled that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a qualifying condition for medicinal marijuana treatment. Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to sign the bill into law, which leaves this particular change up in the air. Unfortunately, Cuomo has expressed reservations about related matters—like decriminalization—in the past, so whether or not this change will go into effect has yet to be known.
Leveling Up Training Programs
To make any of these products or cultivate the plant in the first place, highly-trained and efficient practitioners are a must—and the more there are, the more medicinal cannabis will be available for treatment purposes. According to the DOH’s proposal, courses to licensed practitioners will be condensed without losing educational value. These would be implemented alongside the mandatory four-hour seminars already in place.
Final Hit: Changes New York is Proposing to the Medical Marijuana Program
Fortunately for both patients and dispensaries, there won’t be a long waiting period for the changes to come into effect. As SILive.com reported, the proposed addendums will be submitted and published in the New York State Register later this month. After a 30-day review period in which the public will be allowed to comment on the measures, they will then be made permanent.