New York Enacts Emergency Rules Allowing Medical Marijuana As Opioid Replacement

New York Enacts Emergency Rules Allowing Medical Marijuana As Opioid Replacement

New York regulators are moving to allow patients who would normally be prescribed opioids for any condition to use medical marijuana instead.

That means people suffering from severe pain, opioid dependency or other maladies will now qualify to receive medical cannabis, the state Department of Health announced on Thursday.

“Medical marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain that may also reduce the chance of opioid dependence,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a press release.

“Adding opioid replacement as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana offers providers another treatment option, which is a critical step in combatting the deadly opioid epidemic affecting people across the state.”

Research has consistently demonstrated the ingredients in cannabis can treat various forms of pain, including neuropathic, acute and chronic pain.

Adding severe pain and opioid dependency to the list means that 13 health conditions now qualify patients for medical marijuana in New York. Currently, more than 62,000 patients and about 1,700 practitioners are registered under the state’s medical cannabis program, according to the release.

Numerous surveys have shown that, given the option of using cannabis as an alternative to prescription opioids, pain patients would opt for the former. Unlike opioids, marijuana does not come with the same risk of dependency and nobody has fatally overdosed on the plant.

There’s also evidence that states that provide legal access to marijuana experience significantly fewer opioid-related hospitalizations. A study released this week found that medical marijuana laws were associated with an almost 30 percent reduction in the amount of Schedule III opioids prescribed to Medicaid enrollees.

New York’s Department of Health first announced its plans to add severe pain and opioid dependency to the list of qualifying conditions last month, and is now releasing the emergency regulations to implement the decision.

New York Sen. George Amedore Jr. (R) said in a press release that he’s been “strongly advocating to remove barriers and allow the use of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids because it will help patients, reduce the number of highly addictive opioids in circulation and ultimately, it will save lives.”

“We continue to be faced with an opioid epidemic that is devastating communities throughout our state. It’s important we continue to do everything possible to address this issue from all sides, so I’m glad the Department of Health is taking this measure that will help high risk patients, as well as those that are struggling with, or have overcome, addiction.”

The move from the state health department reflects an evolving approach to marijuana in New York. The New York Democratic Party recently endorsed full marijuana legalization, for example.

And Zucker, the health commissioner, said last month that “the pros outweigh the cons” when it comes to ending cannabis prohibition in the state. A report from his department will recommend full legalization, he added, but a date for its release has not yet been announced.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who is facing a primary challenge from pro-legalization actress Cynthia Nixon, encouraged banks to begin working with medical cannabis and hemp businesses.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Enacts Emergency Rules Allowing Medical Marijuana As Opioid Replacement

New York Works to Award Medical Marijuana Business Licenses

New York Works to Award Medical Marijuana Business Licenses

In July 2014, New York legislators passed medicinal marijuana legislation titled the Compassionate Care Act.

The name is fitting, as it allows patients with certain conditions to be treated with cannabis for relief of symptoms such as nausea, severe and chronic pain, seizures and muscle spasms. Like many other states, patients will be required to register for the program and be treated by a doctor licensed to prescribe marijuana.

Patients can officially start receiving the medicine in January 2016, and the New York Department of Health is hard at work getting everything in order so that the program can begin without delay. Health officials are currently in the process of selecting five companies that will be in charge of growing, producing and distributing the marijuana throughout the state.

Over 40 companies applied for licenses to be producers for the medical marijuana program, and each application came with its own business model and ideas. As this program has never before been implemented in New York, DOH employees have their hands full trying to figure out which companies are best suited to the job.

One of the applicants, Hillary Peckham, applied to open Etain, LLC with her mother and sister. Peckham stated:

“There’s no one in New York who actually has legal experience doing this, so everyone’s starting from a blank slate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do this. You just need the training.”

Hillary and her family own Peckham Industries, and pursued licensure in part for very personal reasons. Their grandmother was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) more than two years ago. Doctors recommended cannabis to ease the symptoms, but she was never able to receive the treatment because it was illegal at the time.

etain new yorkAnticipated building design for Etain, LLC

Other applicants include a team of over two dozen physicians who submitted an application that was 66,000 pages long. In addition to these, an eye care company proposes building greenhouses in various locations across the state, and a tomato plant plans to switch to medical marijuana production if selected for a license.

The DOH has released the names of the applicants, but has not commented on any other details regarding criteria for selection. Each of the five companies that become licensed will be allowed to open four dispensaries across the state, and those 20 locations would serve the state’s 20 million residents.

If selected, they will not only have the chance to build a highly lucrative business from scratch, but will also be able to help thousands of patients across the state.

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