NY Hospitals to Allow MMJ Patients to Medicate On-Site

Medical cannabis patients often struggle to access their medicine in hospital environments, but New York officials have released a proposed expansion of the state's MMJ program, which includes hospital access.

Medical marijuana is rapidly growing in popularity and gradually gaining acceptance among medical professionals, but many cannabis patients are forced to secretly medicate or go without medicine when they’re in a hospital. A proposed expansion of New York state’s MMJ program would allow those patients to medicate under hospital guidelines.

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: you have to be horribly ill — in some cases terminal — before you qualify for medical marijuana, meaning you have to suffer from the kind of health condition that puts you in the hospital, meaning you have go to a place where you can’t use medical marijuana.

Doesn’t quite make sense, does it? Health regulators in New York state don’t think so either. They’ve proposed several changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, including provisions allowing patients to use cannabis in a hospital setting.

It’ll be a far cry from a session circle comprised of people in hospital gowns, but patients would be allowed to use the drug or have their caregivers give it to them under policies crafted by individual hospitals.

From Syracuse.com:

“Hospitals will be allowed to create policies allowing patients to use the drug or have caregivers administer it to them under a regulation proposed by the state Health Department. The regulation is expected to go into effect in February.”

Under the new rules, cannabis will have to be vaporized, applied topically or administered orally—smoked bud is strictly verboten.

Bu that isn’t the only obstacle to safe access. New York currently has one of the most restrictive medical-marijuana programs in the country, and patients have to be suffering from a select list of very serious maladies.

Conspicuously absent from that list is chronic pain, a common condition that many people find cannabis effective for. Thankfully for MMJ patients suffering from this malady, adding it to the list of approved conditions is on the horizon: chronic pain is set to become a qualifying condition in February, pending a 45-day review and comment period.

The health department defined chronic pain in very specific terms:

“Any severe debilitating pain that the practitioner determines degrades health and functional capability; where the patient has contraindications, has experienced intolerable side effects, or has experienced failure of one or more previously tried therapeutic options; and where there is documented evidence of such pain having lasted three months or more beyond onset, or the practitioner reasonably anticipates such pain to last three months or more beyond onset.”

The state is also proposing to loosen up the medical cannabis supply chain. Cultivation operations would be able to wholesale to other licensed dispensaries, allowing for some specialization rather than the vertical-integration scheme in place today.

Licensees would also be able to “produce and sell” more than five brands of product, the current limit in place, which is seriously restricting supply as well as variety of product currently available to patients.

Slowly but surely, marijuana is becoming available in New York state to the people who need it.

TELL US, Have you ever had to secretly use cannabis medicine in a hospital?

Chris Roberts has written about medical cannabis, drug policy, and legalization ever since spending a few months in Humboldt County in 2009, with bylines for the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and SF Weekly. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @cbloggy.

1 Comment

  1. Lawrence Goodwin

    December 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks Chris Roberts and Cannabis Now for covering this matter.

    These recent “changes” are certainly welcome, but many advocates are exasperated over New York’s woefully inadequate program. As someone who joined dozens of them in 2014 to demand passage of the Compassionate Care Act in Albany, the NY state capital, I have a front row seat to the obstructionist policies of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. Both men clearly lack the real compassion for medical cannabis patients that is shown by NY Assemblyman Richard Gottfried or Senator Diane Savino. Most of these current “changes” were in the original law but were nixed by Cuomo under the threat of his veto. Then, early in 2016, Zucker arrogantly rejected the addition of PTSD, Alzheimer’s disease, and 3 other ailments to the list of “qualifying conditions.” A ridiculously small group of 5 “legal” producers (in a rather large state of more than 50,000 square miles) are going under, so something must be done fast to prop up their businesses. That’s what it boils down to. Also, Cuomo and Zucker, cowering before federal “marihuana” law and acting on behalf of a large contingent of NY state lawmakers, literally hate pot smokers. They therefore claim the right to dominate the entire state’s population in regards to all “legal” means of producing, distributing and consuming cannabis. That relentless hatred for pot smokers (common among the state’s 19,000 doctors, too) distorts every action NY officials take in relation to cannabis plants.

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