New York expands its eligibility for medical marijuana qualifying conditions. The state set up a new cannabis registration and certification system on January 24, 2022. This program will allow patients to get certified for a medical card from healthcare professionals, for any condition they deem necessary.
This means that medical marijuana patients no longer have to stick to a list of qualifying conditions. The new system shifts the complete control of marijuana from the OCM (Office of Cannabis Management)and focuses on expanding the program in accordance with the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).
The new eligibility criteria will not only allow more patients to get a prescription for medical marijuana but also permit practitioners other than MMJ doctors to take consultations. Dentists, podiatrists, and midwives should also be able to prescribe medical marijuana. These improvements may likely spark a surge in the number of registered New York MMJ patients.
The OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander commented on how the new patient certification and registration system have added significant steps to forward the OMC’s program. He said,
“We will continue to implement the MRTA and ensure that all New Yorkers who can benefit from medical cannabis have the access they need to do so. It’s important for New Yorkers to know that even as we shift the medical program to the OCM, your access will not be disrupted and the program will continue to expand.”
Local doctor James Saperstone commented on the upside of the situation. He said, “I think it’s great that they have taken the control of this substance away from the government and given it to the practitioners who are trained to know how to dispense any drug and to treat anything.”
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has called for this system over and over again. The organization’s State Policies Manager Jax James said,
“Doctors already possess wide discretion when it comes to recommending and prescribing other medications, many of which pose far greater risks to health than does marijuana. A patient’s treatment options should not be limited by the government, but rather should be determined in confidence between a patient and their doctor. Doctors should be fully empowered to decide what treatment options are best — free from political interference.”
What Does This Mean For New and Old MMJ Patients in New York?
New patients certified through the new system will receive certification from the OCM. Those who already have a New York MMJ card from the Department of Health can continue to use it to access medical marijuana until it reaches its expiration date.
After the old MMJ cards reach their expiration, the OMC would be responsible for their reissuing. The current caregivers will receive their new registry ID cards, printed with their authorized patient’s identity.
Some recent adjustments were also made to the New York cannabis laws:
- Permitting the sale of whole flower medical cannabis products.
- Broadening the kinds of clinical providers eligible for certifying MMJ patients.
- Increasing the limit of legal medical cannabis that may be dispensed to a patient from 30 days to 60 days.
This is great news for New York citizens as recreational sales are not expected to begin until 2023, despite being legalized in 2021.