New Policies Open The Door For Medical Businesses in New York
Guest post by Alana Armstrong of The Marijuana License
If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. New York, New York, right?
Well, not so much with legal marijuana. You might think that with California legalizing cannabis that the Big Apple state wouldn’t be far behind. Especially since some of her neighbors—Massachusetts, Maine, and even Vermont—are following suit.
Although medical marijuana is legal in New York, the state has been slower to adopt legalization of recreational marijuana. However, according to a poll conducted by Emerson College for the Marijuana Policy Project, this may be a turning point. The survey found that 62 percent of New York voters favored making adult-use marijuana legal while 28 percent opposed the idea. The support is due in part to the promised benefits of using marijuana industry taxes and fees to pay off the state’s burgeoning debt. That debt is expected to reach $4.4 billion in the fiscal year starting this April.
The Marijuana Policy Project quickly used the results to push New York lawmakers to consider legalizing marijuana. Landon Dais, political director for the project’s New York office, told the New York Daily News, “This should be a wake-up call to lawmakers: New Yorkers want their state to take a sensible, humane approach to marijuana policy.
New Policies Are an Appealing Aspect of Opening Medical Marijuana Businesses in New York State
New York made its last set of policy changes in August, announcing new types of marijuana products available for sale including ointments, lotions, patches, tablets, lozenges and non-smokable forms of ground plant material.
Now a new set of changes is taking effect December 27, 2018 and they’re designed to improve the state’s entire medical marijuana program by speeding up licensing, expanding the diversity of products and increasing the focus on consumer education.
The state’s medical marijuana system was being bottle-necked by having too few doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants registered for the program, which slowed the flow of patients registering for the program. The new set of regulatory changes will help shorten the length of time it takes for health practitioners to be registered to admit marijuana patients, and an obligatory course that used to require 4 hours of class time will be whittled down to 2 hours. As of December 19, 2017, there are 39,448 certified patients and 1,369 registered practitioners participating in New York’s medical marijuana program.
On the product development side, the new set of rules will provide a more robust framework for manufacturing, marketing, security and lab testing. “Ensuring access to medical marijuana for eligible patients is central to the Department’s efforts to responsibly grow New York’s Medical Marijuana Program,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “The new regulations will benefit current and prospective patients and practitioners, as well as registered organizations, and continue to build on the progress the program has made since its launch nearly two years ago.”
New York is Putting Prospective Marijuana Patients and Practitioners First
The state has approved the applications of five more manufacturers and has amended rules so that all manufacturers can expand their offerings to include ointments, lotions, and transdermal patches; medicated consumables, like effervescent tablets and lozenges; and some types of non-smokable cannabis plant material. And while the entire manufacturing process is undergoing some streamlining, the Department demands that all products go through rigorous lab testing. They also reserve the right to exclude products that they deem a public health threat.
The new regulations allow for two entirely new area of business: home delivery of marijuana products—a market that remains untapped—and for patients to attend informational sessions hosted at dispensaries and taught by company representatives. Patients can also bring their caretakers, friends or family members to these open courses. It’s easy to see that as more patients register for medical cards, and as more practitioners register to provide services, educational events and materials are going to become a growing need for many businesses. Having charismatic representatives and rich media assets— both online and offline—will set products apart from their competition and make it easier for healthcare practitioners to make knowledgeable recommendations about products. The Department is already working with course providers to create a comprehensive two-hour on-boarding course. As ailments like post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain are added to the state’s list of qualifying conditions, effective on-going education will become an increasingly important element within the medical marijuana space.
Cannabis industry advocates are encouraged by these changes as are business owners and entrepreneurs looking to enter the medical marijuana space. But more still needs to be done to make the program viable long-term.
About the author:
Alana Armstrong is a cannabis industry journalist, contributing to The Marijuana License and others. She has had the privilege of exploring and writing about cannabis both from a practical perspective and as a passionate advocate for legalization and entrepreneurship. Her main interests are in policy, health & wellness, and telling the personal stories of the businesses and entrepreneurs who are helping to build the industry, one state and one company at a time.