The state Department of Health on Tuesday officially filed amendments and proposed rules for New York’s medical marijuana program that will allow it to authorize nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients.
Those expansions are not surprising and conform with proposals DOH issued in August.
The department also said it expects to make a decision by the end of the month regarding the use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from chronic pain.
The tweaks were part of the department’s two-year progress report, which was issued in August. Other recommendations that the department says it is continuing to implement include increasing the number of laboratories that are certified to test medical marijuana products and registering five additional organizations that can grow marijuana and produce drugs over two years.
“The first year of New York’s Medical Marijuana Program has been a success,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement. “Over 10,500 patients have been certified by more than 740 registered physicians to date. Authorizing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients will only help to further strengthen the program and improve patient access.”
The regulation allowing nurse practitioners to certify patients will take effect Nov. 30. The proposed change that would allow physician assistants to certify patients will be subject to a 45-day public comment period that begins Nov. 30. It would take effect when it is filed for adoption after the comment period.
Allowing more medical professionals to certify patients is a welcome reform, though it remains to be seen if it’s the silver bullet that alleviates the program’s woes. In August, three of the current five registered organizations said they were not yet profitable amid low patient counts and high costs for medical marijuana products, which deters some who are certified to purchase the drug.
DOH said there are 19,000 nurse practitioners and 11,000 physician assistants licensed to practice in New York. There already are tens of thousands of doctors who presumably could sign up to certify patients.
Those interested in certifying patients for the program must register with the department and take a four-hour course.
DOH does offer an online portal to physicians who are not registered to certify patients but who seek to send their patients to a physician who is. That portal, which lists registered doctors, is not open to the general public.
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Full Article: State Presses Onward With Medical Marijuana Program Expansions
Author: Matthew Hamilton
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