New York doctors can soon prescribe joints to medical marijuana patients
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New York’s strict medical marijuana rules are about to get reeeally mellow.
Doctors will soon be able to prescribe joints — instead of just cannabis oils and capsules — to medical marijuana patients for a wide range of ailments, after pot was legalized in the state this week.
It will likely take a couple of months for medical marijuana companies to submit their products to state-run labs and get the green-light from the health department.
But doctors will then be able to prescribe their “smokable flower” under the state’s new Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
And more people will be able to receive the treatment for far more maladies.
Previously, New Yorkers were limited to treating only chronic pain-related illnesses such as cancer and HIV with medical marijuana, and were restricted to a one-month supply of cannabis oil, capsules or vapes.
But Empire State residents will now be able to become medical marijuana patients for almost any health problem or condition — ranging from period cramps to headaches and autism. The new bill, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday, also allows patients to receive a two-month supply of the old-fashioned green stuff.
“As a physician, generally we don’t think of flower as a medical product, and that mentality has shifted,” said Dr. Steve Dahmer, the chief medical officer at Vireo Health, one of the state’s licensed medical marijuana firms.
“Flower is what pretty much everyone is using prior to any of these cannabis programs.”
Since 2016, New York has served roughly 143,000 medical marijuana patients through 10 licensed companies, each of which are allowed up to four dispensaries.
The new bill gives companies with medical licenses easier entry into the recreational market once it’s set up.
It also authorizes more healthcare providers, including at nursing homes, to prescribe marijuana to patients.
Ngiste Abebe, President of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association, said the relaxed new rules give more power to health care professionals — and give patients access to less expensive forms of cannabis.
“With practitioner discretion, it’s no longer the regulator who is deciding which patients could benefit from medical cannabis, it’s the health professional,” Abebe said. “With whole flower, the most affordable product we can produce will now be available to patients.”
“These are major, and long awaited changes that will greatly improve patient access,” she added.
But New Yorkers age 21 and over looking to buy non-medical wacky tobacky legally in stores will likely have to wait until at least December 2022 to light up.
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