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NY Patients Can Now Register for Medical Marijuana Program, But Good Luck Finding A Recommendation

Photo By Sam Valadi/Creative Commons


NY Patients Can Now Register for Medical Marijuana Program, But Good Luck Finding A Recommendation

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns surrounding medical marijuana in New York is that there will not be many doctors available to provide recommendations.

With only a couple of weeks remaining before New York’s ultra-restrictive medical marijuana program is scheduled to launch, the state felt it was time to finally published a means for potentially hundreds of thousands of sick people to register their intent to purchase cannabis products.

Last Wednesday, the state’s Health Department, which has dragged their feet throughout the entire process of developing this limited program, managed to get it together long enough to publish the enrollment criteria for New York patients suffering from “severe, debilitating or life-threatening” conditions.

Essentially, patients with conditions ranging from cancer to Huntington’s disease must first get their hands on a certification from a physician that has registered with the state and completed its 4-hour online training course. Once a certification has been obtained, patients will then need to apply online through the Health Department for permission to participate. A $50 application fee may be billed to patients unless they are able to prove financial hardship, according to the website.

“The launch of the state’s Medical Marijuana Patient Certification and Registration System marks the achievement of another milestone toward providing relief to all New Yorkers who may benefit from medical marijuana,” Dr. Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner, said in a statement.

Although a spokesperson for the Health Department told Metro back in November that “the state’s medical marijuana program, remains on track for full implementation in two months,” there are still a wealth of other issues at hand that could cripple the program before it ever has a chance to get off the ground.

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns surrounding medical marijuana in New York is that there will not be many doctors available to provide recommendations. Earlier this year, at a Manhattan Chamber of Commerce meeting, State Senator Diane Savino, who played an influential role in the passing of the Compassionate Care Act, told those in attendance that one of her greatest fears was that there would not be enough physicians trained to service patients in need.

“We don’t have a single trained physician,” said Savino. “They are the gatekeepers of all of this.”

The lawmaker’s concerns were compounded exponentially after a poll taken over the summer of 500 New York doctors found that only one physician planned to get involved in the business of medical marijuana. Most of the physicians surveyed, however, said that their intentions to not provide medical marijuana recommendations had more to do with conflicting state and federal law than their personal feelings on the therapeutic benefits of the plant.

It was not until the end of October that the state finally introduced the required training program for physicians wanting to begin certifying medical marijuana patients. Yet, it remained uncertain just how many would step up and get involved. Since then, the Health Department has refused to divulge any pertinent information regarding how many doctors it has registered, only saying that “practitioner education is an ongoing process with doctors continually signing up for and receiving training.”

What makes the issue of physician registration even more challenging is the fact that many healthcare professionals, like general practitioners, which are most likely to fall in line with the state’s rule of having a “bonafide” patient/doctor relationship, are not be able to issue recommendations simply because the qualified conditions included in the state’s program are mostly handled by specialists. The majority of the medical marijuana recommendations will need to come from professionals like infectious disease doctors, oncologists, and neurologists, not those who see patients on a daily basis for common ailments.

According to, there are only three physicians registered in the entire state of New York willing to provide patients with the appropriate certification: One in Brooklyn, another in Manhattan, and a third in Elmhurst.

New York’s 20 medical marijuana dispensaries will reportedly open their doors January 2016.

Do you live in New York and need medical marijuana? Tell us about your experiences below.



  1. first in nyc

    January 10, 2016 at 8:57 am

    terible expiriance

  2. chris Vilandry

    January 3, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Just another NYS political fiasco. They tell the public one thing for the newsprint while in reality they do another. Try finding a doctor and if you do, good luck because the state ,as of yet, has not told them how to process the paperwork. So another sham from our incompetent , totally corrupt and quite dysfunctional group in Albany. The only real good news for the year is that they prosecuted two out of “the three people in the room,”. Unfortunately they stopped short of getting all three as the Governor stopped the corruption probe as soon as it hit his doorstep. Funny thing how he has the power to do that and the news story barely got any ink at all. Well that’s politics for you , hard to believe and very odiferous.

  3. Janice J Jones

    January 3, 2016 at 9:25 am

    At the age of 75, I live in central NY, in the northern part of the southern tier. I am a senior with a debilitating condition that has crippled me. It is of course not listed on Comino’s short list. No signup doctors especially for those like me with limited funds. No place to buy but it is a plant that grows like a tomato which I have grown in my backyard.

    So I live daily with severe pain and no comfort.

    When Comino ran for gov two people voted for his dead father [a good gov], and one voted for Santa Claus. Either one would make a better gov.

    How can a man who is so on about fracking be so far off about cannabis? Is it that whoever is guiding him about cannabis a uptight controlling AH?

    Certainly if Comino had spent only a couple hours viewing on youtube about the many benefits of cannabis.
    Viewing with an open mind, and forgetting about the large donations the Pharmaceutical Hood has donated to his campaign.
    Keeping in mind that he is supposed to be serving the people of the state not bossing them around.
    He would then see that the Creator has given up a complete plant that feeds the natural body [any animal with a vertebra].
    Also this plant does not do any harm to the body or mind of the person.

    If it did I would be dead, or unbalanced as I have smoked it since I was 12.

    My grandmother a Midwife supplied me with cannabis throughout my teens as I had debilitating monthly cramps. I worked to pay my way through Cortland State, graduated, went on to teach. Then reverted to the dental technology that gave me the money for school as I could make more money with crown and bridge.
    I lived in Baltimore,started my own dental lab, and was successful. Then my period stopped.

    I gave up cannabis in the 1980’s.

    I shortly started to acquire one skin infection after the other, and eventually caught one that could not be stopped by antibiotics. This
    made it impossible for me to work.
    So I moved back to my home town. A BIG MISTAKE. Had I stayed in Baltimore I could now be getting cannabis as a registered user.

    But I am stuck here in a backward state, where the business of selling medicine for BIG BUCKS takes precedence to the health and wellbeing of the citizens.

    I am thinking of selling out and moving to MAINE where the people can read, view, and understand that cannabis is not the Big Boogey Man.

    How can a state fall so far behind. We had the longest canal, the first suspension bridge, the tallest building for many years, the port that welcomed so many people that immigrated.

    New York State is now trailing behind modern thinking states and is a poor follower.

    PS My grandmother told me that cannabis was the best medicine for pregnancy, birthing, and any female problems. But some uneducated man who didn’t know anything about it in DC signed a piece of paper and made it illegal

    Cannabis was voted illegal by many men who had stock in Dupont.

    Dupont you say? Yes.

    In 1936 Dupont discovered how to make nylon, and paper out of wood.

    Cannabis material was more comfortable, kept its shape better, and lasted longer , did not rot, also it was less expensive.

    Paper made of cannabis did not rot, was more durable, did not pollute the streams, and cost less to produce.

    But they could not let the farmers know that they were putting them out of business.

    The attack was made against the cousin plant which they called Marijuana. which was used by many for recreation as well as for medicine. The attack was racially aimed also.

    Many congressmen and senators had stock in Dupont. The were wined and dined and voted to fill their pocketbooks.

    The AMA found out too late that the plant they were talking about was one of the best medicines the doctors had. Their delegates to the debate were ignored.

    So Hemp was made illegal. They were after hemp not realizing that by attacking the plant they were dooming many people to painful death

    • Mitch

      January 4, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      Excellent reply.

    • Suz

      January 6, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Excellent and factually accurate based on my father’s experiences and he was born 76 years ago.
      P.S. When state officials smoke it for recreational use, it does not seem hard to find. But that is my experience with former NY State Cabinet members.

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