Medical marijuana's uses continue to grow

Gene Epstein. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

In 2014, New York became the 23rd state to legalize marijuana use for a handful of specific medical conditions. But New York State’s medical marijuana program is the most restrictive program in the country. The product is only available in Cannabis oil via several delivery methods including capsules, vapor, tincture and spray. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s program does not allow the use of the whole plant or edibles — “prohibiting smokable marijuana will keep the drug out of the wrong hands,” says Cuomo.

This presents a small problem, according to Gene P. Epstein, FNP, one of New York’s growing list of individuals that can certify you for a medical marijuana card. “The products offered in NY State are purified marijuana. They are separated by extraction — the CBD and THC, which leave out a whole lot of other things that are in the whole Cannabis plant — THCA, CBN, CBC, terpenes, lactones, etc. Whole plant marijuana is much better than the pharmaceutical products and they are growing strains now which contain high contents of both CBDs and THC,” says Epstein. Right now, marijuana, as you may know it, is not legal in the state.

Epstein, a psychology major and paramedic in New York City for over ten years, has over 20 years EMS experience dealing with chronic pain including assisting in countless opioid overdoses. “Back then I dealt with a lot of pain issues and they used a lot of opioids. Many people got into trouble with that. Opioids are still used for acute pain and effective.”


Though opioids work quite well for chronic pain, they are highly addictive and carry many unwanted side effects. “Cannabis works very well on pain. However there were not any studies performed in

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