NEW YORK (DPA) —Today, the New York State Department of Health announced that they will expand New York’s beleaguered medical marijuana program by adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition under New York’s Compassionate Care Law. This decision by the Department of Health is a victory for patient advocates and for all New Yorkers who suffer from debilitating pain, which medical marijuana has been proven to help treat.
“Medical marijuana is a scientifically proven intervention for people who are suffering from chronic pain and we applaud New York State for added it as a qualifying condition to access medical marijuana,” said Alyssa Aguilera, Co-Executive Director, VOCAL-NY. “We hope to see additional improvements to the state’s medical marijuana program, and eventually the full legalization of cannabis, so that no New Yorkers are criminalized for possessing and using the plant.”
Since New York’s medical marijuana program was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in July 2014, advocates have raised serious concerns about the onerous regulations—more than100 pages in total–that make New York’s program one of the most restrictive in the country. Nearly 11 months after medication became available to the public under the program, patients and advocates are pleased that the Department of Health has begun to listen to patients and take steps to make the program more accessible to those who will benefit from this medicine.
The addition of chronic pain as a qualifying condition is the second change to the medical marijuana program within its first year of operation. Earlier this year, the Department of Health issued 12 recommendations to improve the program, including home delivery, allowing nurse practitioners to recommend medical marijuana, and increasing the brands and forms available, which are in the process of being implemented.