The New York State Department of Health recently announced that, based on a statewide needs assessment, it will implement numerous recommendations through new regulations and guidelines to enhance its Medical Marijuana Program. The recommendations, which will improve access for patients suffering from severe, debilitating and life-threatening conditions, include authorizing nurse practitioners to certify patients for the program, allowing for home delivery service of medicine, expanding the financial hardship waiver for patients and caregivers who apply for registration, and modifying the state’s data management system to make it more user friendly for certified patients and caregivers.
“New York’s Medical Marijuana Program has rapidly progressed, certifying more than 7,000
patients across the state and registering more than 675 physicians in just the first seven months,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “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. 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
Authorizing Nurse Practitioners to Certify Patients
Authorizing nurse practitioners to certify New Yorkers for medical marijuana is consistent with their current authority to prescribe controlled substances (including opioids). Allowing them to issue such certifications will help more patients suffering from severe, debilitating or life-threatening conditions, particularly in many rural counties where far fewer physicians are available to treat such ailments.
“The report’s first recommendation acknowledges that nurse practitioners have the necessary education, preparation and experience to diagnose patients as suffering from a serious condition,” said Stephen Ferrara, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, executive director of The Nurse Practitioner Association NYS. “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
Proposing Additional Regulatory Amendments
The department is also proposing additional regulatory amendments to enhance the Medical Marijuana Program by streamlining manufacturing requirements and broadening the capability for registered organizations to advertise their participation in the program.
Allowing Delivery Service
The department will also begin allowing registered organizations to offer home delivery services. In many cases, patients with serious health conditions cannot leave their homes and have difficulty accessing medical marijuana products.
Reviewing Chronic Pain
The department has already begun conducting a review of evidence for the use of medical marijuana in patients suffering from chronic intractable pain. Identification of literature for the review process is already underway, and it is anticipated that a decision will be made within the next 90 days.
Expanding the Hardship Waiver
The department will immediately expand the financial hardship waiver for the $50 patient and caregiver application fee for registration, and will post additional information in this regard within the coming weeks. This will help alleviate the financial burden for a number of patients, helping them move one step closer to obtaining medical marijuana products.
Making Program More User-Friendly
DOH will work to enhance the practitioner, patient and caregiver certification and registration system, including the Medical Marijuana Data Management System.
Expanding Testing of Medical Marijuana Products
The department is also looking at ways to encourage independent laboratories in New York to apply for the state’s Environmental Laboratory Approval Program certification to perform testing of medical marijuana products for the registered organizations.
Increasing Ability to Locate Practitioners
The department is exploring additional ways to ensure that patients can locate registered practitioners. This includes the possibility of adding a public list of practitioners registered with the program to the department’s web page and enhancing the list of registered practitioners currently available through the department’s Health Commerce System.
Continuing Federal Outreach
The department will continue its outreach efforts to encourage the federal government to relax restrictions on scientific research relating to medical marijuana, as well as the registered organizations’ ability to conduct financial transactions and establish traditional banking relationships.
Visit www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana for more information about the two-year report for the Medical Use of Marijuana Under the Compassionate Care Act.