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New York Expands Medical Marijuana Eligibility

This week, New York expanded eligibility for the state’s medical cannabis program to include more patients, according to an announcement from state regulators. New York’s Office of Cannabis Management said on Monday that the state had launched a new medical marijuana certification and registration system that is “easier to use and expands the eligibility criteria for patients who can benefit from medical cannabis.”

Practitioners will now be permitted to issue medical cannabis certifications to anyone they think may benefit from medicinal marijuana. Patients with qualifying medical conditions were previously restricted from medical marijuana use. According to the Office of Cannabis Management, the changes are consistent with last year’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

In addition to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and establishing a framework for adult-use cannabis sales, the MRTA shifted the regulation of New York’s medical marijuana program from the state Department of Health to the OCM. Tremaine Wayne, chair of the state Cannabis Control Board, praised the efforts made by the regulators.

“It is terrific to see the Medical Cannabis Program expand so vastly with the launch of the new certification and registration program and the ability of practitioners to determine qualifying conditions as included in the MRTA,” Wright said in a statement from the OCM. 

Previously, the OCM announced additional changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, including allowing the sale of cannabis flower and a permanent waiver of registration fees for patients and caregivers. In addition, the OCM expanded the number of qualified caregivers to be able to certify patients for medical cannabis to include anyone who has been licensed in New York to prescribe controlled substances, including dentists, midwives, and podiatrists. 

Other changes to New York’s medical marijuana program made by the OCM include increasing the amount of cannabis that may be dispensed at one time from a 30-day supply to a 60-day supply and streamlining the approval for institutions such as hospitals, residential facilities and schools to become designated caregiver facilities to hold and dispense products for patients. The state Cannabis Control Board received public comments regarding proposed regulations for home cultivation by patients with medical marijuana. It is now evaluating the submissions and publishing the results in the state register.

“The new cannabis industry is taking shape as we continue to implement the MRTA and provide greater access for New Yorkers to a medicine that we’re learning more about every day,” Wright said. “We’re continuing to move forward swiftly and today’s system launch follows our achievements that already include adding whole flower medical product sales, permanently waiving $50 patient fees, and advancing home cultivation regulations, among others.”

The OCM will issue certifications to patients who have been certified using the new registration and certification system. The Department of Health’s certifications are valid until their expiration dates. OCM will issue new certifications.

The Expansion Of Medical Marijuana Programm Applauded by the Cannabis Community

Rebecca Siegel (clinical psychiatrist, author of The Brain on Cannabis: What you Need to Know about Recreational and Medical MarijuanaAccording to, expanding medical marijuana access is a good idea, as cannabis has many benefits for patients with a variety of conditions.

“I think this gives practitioners in all types of medicine just one more tool to add to their belt in order to effectively treat patients,” Siegal wrote in an email to Chronic News. “Most importantly, I think this broadens the opportunity for more patients to have access to cannabis from their own personal trusted physicians who can better monitor their conditions and use of marijuana. This is way better than patients trying to manage it on their own.”

Sharon Ali is the Mid-Atlantic region general manager of Acreage Holdings cannabis multi-state operator Acreage Holdings. She said expanding medical marijuana access in New York was a major step forward. The company has four The Botanist locations.

“New York has the opportunity to implement lessons learned from earlier adopters of legalization, and we’ve seen from other states that one of the most important foundations for a successful adult-use program is a robust medical program,” Ali wrote in an email, adding that it is “an exciting time for New York as the cannabis program continues to evolve in a positive direction.”