In a move that could significantly expand New York’s limited medical cannabis program, the state has added chronic pain to its qualifying condition list, according to a press release from the department. The Health Department is still developing the regulations to define what symptoms will qualify as chronic pain.
“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,” Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker said in the statement. “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.”
On Wednesday, regulatory amendments to the state’s limited medical cannabis took effect authorizing nurse practitioners to certify patients under the program. Additionally, the department proposed a rule that would allow physician assistants to certify patients. The rule proposal is subject to a 45-day comment period and will not take effect before that comment period has concluded.
According to the Health Department’s two-year report on the medical cannabis program, 10,730 patients have been approved to obtain medical cannabis in the state, which has registered 750 physicians to recommend its use. However, 19 of the state’s 62 counties still do not have even one program-registered physician.