Syracuse, N.Y. — The state has refused to loosen up its stringent medical marijuana rules that prohibit the drug from being smoked and only allow it to be used to treat 10 medical conditions.
The state Health Department has issued final regulations after receiving hundreds of comments from the public. The state expects to get its medical marijuana program off the ground next year.
“Expanding the initial set of regulations would have subjected the State to unnecessary scrutiny and jeopardized the program’s ability to move forward in any meaningful manner,” the health department said.
The health department said the final regulations ” … strike the required balance by implementing a strong and effective medical marijuana program in New York State.”
Commenters asked the state to expand the list of conditions that can be treated with marijuana. The conditions listed in the regulations include: cancer, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disorder, neuropathies and Huntington’s disease.
The health department said the regulations give the state’s health commissioner the authority to expand those conditions in the future.
Commenters also suggested the state allow more organizations to grow and dispense marijuana. Under the regulations, the state will issue licenses to five organizations that will grow and dispense marijuana. The state said additional organizations may be added in the future as needed.
The state has not started accepting applications yet from organizations that want to produce marijuana in New York. The health department said it will publish information soon on its website about the application process.
Commenters also expressed concerns about the affordability of medical marijuana for low income patients and a provision in the regulations that requires the state health commissioner to set prices for the drug.
The state said the regulations prohibit distribution of free medical marijuana products, but allow the health commissioner to make exceptions which could includea charity program offered by a registered organization.
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