New York State opioid patients may qualify for medical marijuana

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To help combat the opioid epidemic, the state Department of Health announced Monday it will develop a regulatory amendment to add opioid use as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Currently, if a patient has one of the 12 qualifying conditions, as well as an associated condition, the patient can be referred to the medical marijuana program. The registered practitioner needs proof of state residency, such as a driver’s license, as well as proof of condition from the patient’s primary doctor. Once the proof is received, the registered practitioners can certify the patient online for the patient to complete the registration paperwork, which will then be taken to the nearest dispensary.

By adding opioid use to the list, the goal is for medical marijuana to reduce the use of opioids and number of opioid deaths across the state, based on research.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said he wants to give medical providers as many options as possible to treat patients effectively. Some medical marijuana providers agree with Dr. Zucker on the beneficial factors substituting for opioids can have.


A nurse practitioner and the owner of Medical Marijuana Recs NY, Lauraine F. Kanders, said the patients she sees are glad they have more choices. Her practice is completely online, known as telemedicine, which gives her the opportunity to see patients all across the state, rather than just at her Long Island location.

“I definitely see a lot of happy campers,” Ms. Kanders said. “They are happy they get the chance to try something else because they have genuine concerns and don’t want to be on opiates.”

But while the patients do not want to be on opioids, Ms. Kanders said a majority of the patients

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