NEW YORK — Registered patients can have medical marijuana delivered right to their front doors following an expansion of New York’s medical marijuana program announced Tuesday.
About 7,000 patients have registered with the program since the Compassionate Care Act went into effect in late 2015, but for many of them, leaving the home to get to one of the state’s licensed dispensaries is too much of a physical challenge. The Cuomo administration integrated home deliveries into its plan following a series of Health Department recommendations made earlier in August.
“Since launching the program, the Department has worked closely with doctors, patients and registered organizations to gather information relevant to strengthening the program in anticipation of the required two-year report,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “We are constantly evaluating the program to make it more effective for patients and practitioners, and we believe that the implementation of these recommendations will do just that.”
The state will also allow nurse practitioners to certify patients with cancer, HIV infections, ALS, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. among other conditions, for medical marijuana. Nurse practitioners have the necessary education and experience to diagnose patients as suffering from a serious condition, said Stephen Ferrara, executive director of The Nurse Practitioner Association NYC.
“Allowing nurse practitioners to participate in New York’s program will provide greater access to New Yorkers of all ages and health conditions, since these New Yorkers are increasingly choosing a nurse practitioner as their health care provider,” Ferrara said.
Only about 675 physicians are currently registered to certify patients throughout New York, according to the Health Department. More than half of New York’s registered users use medical marijuana to treat severe or chronic pain.
The state is still considering the Health Department’s recommendation to double the number of companies allowed to sell medical marijuana in the state from five to 10.
Medical marijuana advocates applauded the policy update. They’ve lobbied for easier access to medical marijuana since the program opened up to the public.
“We look forward to the rapid implementation of the Department of Health recommendations and push the Health Commissioner and Governor Cuomo to continue to work with advocates and patients to keep building a stronger medical marijuana program for New York State,” said the Drug Police Alliance’s New York Director, Kassandra Frederique. “We hope that by incorporating these additional changes it will make the program as comprehensive and effective as possible.”