New York’s medical cannabis program, which has allowed its five licensed producers to sell the medicine only in extracted form and not flower since its launch in at the beginning of 2016, has been under pressure due to the very limited number of qualifying conditions, which excluded chronic pain, commonly the most frequent reason doctors recommend medical cannabis in other states. Through November 29th, only 750 physicians have registered and only 10,730 patients have been certified.
Today, the state made a major improvement by adding chronic pain to the other nine qualifying conditions (see press release below). This follows last week’s announcement to expand the number of health care professionals that can certify patients by including nurse practitioners, with physician assistants likely to be added in the near future. These improvements are good news for the providers, including Bloomfield Industries, Columbia Care, Etain, PharmaCann and Vireo Health as well as Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE: IIPR), which is expected to buy PharmaCann’s facility following the completion of its IPO.
Today’s announcement is welcome news for New Yorkers suffering from chronic pain. Patients struggling with pain deserve more treatment options and it is our hope that medical marijuana will help address one of the biggest public health challenges facing our State – the opioid crisis.
Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health of New York
NYSDOH Announces Chronic Pain to Be Added As Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana
Chronic Pain Will Join List of Ten Current Qualifying Conditions
ALBANY, N.Y. (December 1, 2016) – The New York State Department of Health today announced that chronic pain will be added as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.
“After conducting a thorough review of the scientific literature, it became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker. “Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York State, and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program.”
The Department will develop a proposed regulatory amendment, which will include language specifying the chronic pain conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana. The proposed regulatory amendment will be published for public comment shortly.
The other ten qualifying conditions are cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and Huntington’s disease.
Regulatory amendments filed by the Department to authorize nurse practitioners to certify patients for medical marijuana took effect on Wednesday, when the notice of adoption was published in the New York State Register. In order to register with the Department, nurse practitioners must take the Department-approved Medical Use of Marijuana course online and submit their certificate of course completions to the Department using the instructions provided on the Department’s Medical Marijuana Program Practitioner Information page: www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/practitioner/.
In addition, a proposed rulemaking was published Wednesday that would enable physician assistants to register with the Department to certify patients for medical marijuana, as long as their supervising physician is also registered to certify patients. This proposed rulemaking will be subject to a 45-day public comment period and would not take effect until it is filed for adoption after the public comment period.
The Department continues to implement other recommendations from the two-year report on the Medical Marijuana Program. For more information on the two-year report for the Medical Use of Marijuana under the Compassionate Care Act, visit: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.
Original press release: https://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2016/2016-12-01_chronic_pain_condition_added.htm