New York marijuana laws are some of the strictest in the country. Only 10 conditions qualify for treatment and it cannot be dispensed in a smokeable form. Currently it is only available to vaporize, in capsule or in oil form. Doctors have been hesitant to join the program due to the tight restrictions and a limited number of licensed dispensaries have made it extremely difficult for patients to have access to the plant if they live in a different part of the state. All of this has made it difficult for the program to take off in the state and the industry may not survive without changes being made. “We’re not breaking even yet, and neither has anyone else in the industry,” said Hillary Peckham, chief operations officer of Etain, a company that has several dispensaries.
How New York Marijuana Will Be More Accessible
Officials have started work on adjusting the regulations to make it a more sustainable program. There is still a long road ahead but the new steps are welcome changes for those living within the state. To begin with, nurses and doctor’s assistants will be allowed to recommend it to patients, which will increase patient accessibility. Officials are also talking about allowing home delivery services for patients that need it. Only a limited numbers of strains are permitted within the state and, for some conditions, using the right strain is an essential aspect of treatment.
Considerations to Qualifying Conditions
Currently, the qualifying conditions according to New York marijuana laws are: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease. Officials are now considering adding chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions which would no doubt help many patients currently suffering with trauma and other disorders. Nothing official has been announced as yet but the discussion is a first step on the way to expanding the program for New York residents.
The Future of Medical Marijuana in New York
New York marijuana laws are likely to remain strict for some time as Gov. Andrew Cuomo does not support the legalization of the plant, however given the national trend, it may just be a matter of time. Neighboring states Maine and Massachusetts voted to legalize the plant on November 8th this year, along with California and Nevada. This brings the total number of states with legalized marijuana up to 8, along with Washington D.C. This means 1/5 of the country now has legal marijuana. On top of that, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana and many cities have decriminalized the plant in small amounts.
Advocates are hopeful that eventually New York will join the national trend and follow suit. Doctor Kyle Kingsley, chairman of Vireo Health, which is 1 of 5 companies picked under New York’s law to grow and sell marijuana for medical purposes, said, “It’s unlikely to happen in the short term. But I do think what’s going on in Massachusetts, it helps knock down the stigma … I think it’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of time.”