New York State expanded their medical marijuana program in November of 2016. Since that time the leaders of the State and Health Departments have been working to add qualifying conditions and expand the program further. Between November of 2016 and today’s date, their medical marijuana program has added a multitude of illnesses or ailments including generalized chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and now, as of this month, opioid use.
On July 12, 2018, the NY State Department of Health announced that medical marijuana is approved for use as a replacement for opioid prescriptions by registered medical professionals approved within the Medical Marijuana Program.
New York state, like many states across the country, is being dramatically affected by the costs of the acknowledged opioid epidemic in the United States. New York is working diligently, in a coordinated effort, to fight addition, reduce opioid related deaths, and fully utilize existing state programs aimed at helping individuals affected by this issue. The situation has become so dire that in the news brief released by the State, the policies regarding opioid replacement with medical marijuana (within the scope of the state’s Medical Marijuana Program), were considered emergency regulations effective immediately.
The specific regulations indicate that any condition for which an opioid could be prescribed will be considered a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Providers can certify patients to use medical marijuana in place of opioids and temporary ID cards will be available to purchase products in a more streamlined manner.
In addition, this same expansion added that opioid use would also be considered a qualifying condition in order to switch someone from opioids to medical marijuana. To further the efforts for reducing the burden of the opioid epidemic and create a more accessible medical marijuana program for all, the State has also recently enhanced the Program by permitting home delivery of products and empowering other front-line care providers beyond the MD role, namely Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants, the ability to certify patients.
The final permanent regulations on this issue will be adopted on August 1, 2018 after the state has a public comment period between the time these changes were proposed in June and their pilot adoption in July. According to the NY State Department of Health, there are 62,000 plus certified patients and more than 1700 practitioners participating in the medical marijuana program.