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Although the New York Department of Health (DOH) has been working to make the state’s medical marijuana program more accessible and affordable, the state’s cannabis advocates and businesses say it still has significant room for improvement.
The 2014 Compassionate Care Act legalized medical marijuana in the Empire State and established the Medical Marijuana Program, which allows doctors to certify patients suffering from specific conditions to receive cannabis products for medical use. Physicians must complete a four-hour course approved by the DOH and register with the DOH to certify patients. Once certified, a patient must apply with the DOH to receive a registry identification card and may designate up to two caregivers to obtain medical marijuana products on their behalf. Caregivers must also register with the DOH and receive a separate identification card. Patients and caregivers can then visit one of New York’s registered dispensing facilities to purchase medical marijuana products.
The state has 10 registered organizations, which can be vertically integrated to manufacture and dispense medical marijuana. Each one can operate up to four dispensing facilities. The organizations are permitted to manufacture products in the form of capsules, liquids and oils that can be administered sublingually or through vaporization. Smoking and edibles are prohibited.
“New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program has made great strides since its launch nearly two years ago, including the certification of 35,318 patients and the registration of 1,312 practitioners,” said Jill Montag, a spokesperson for the New York DOH. “The Department of Health is committed to growing the program responsibly. Recent enhancements—such as authorizing five additional registered organizations [in addition to the original five allowed per the legislation] to manufacture and dispense medical marijuana, adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition, permitting home delivery, and empowering nurse practitioners and physician