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NY: Hospitals In Medical Marijuana Dilemma

Katelyn Baker

Well-Known Member
The use of medical marijuana in hospitals remains in limbo nearly a year after state-sanctioned companies began dispensing it from licensed locations around the state.

That leaves people like Jennifer Livesey and her daughter, Carson, in limbo as well. Livesey said Carson, 16, needs to be hospitalized for three to seven days for tests related to her epilepsy. Orange Regional Medical Center, though, won't allow her to possess and use the medical marijuana she's taken since May.

"It's controlling her epilepsy," Livesey said. "I'm disgusted by the little thought that went into this, especially for epileptic patients who risk serious seizures."

The tests are being postponed with the permission of Carson's neurologist, Livesey said.

Hospitals cannot dispense the drug. Only the five companies that pay fees to the state can supply patients. And hospitals, which rely on federal funds including Medicaid, are faced with a federal classification of marijuana as a dangerous and illegal drug.

Orange Regional Medical Center spokesman Rob Lee said in an email that state law prohibits patients from having their medical marijuana while hospitalized. ORMC, he said, looks for "therapeutic options" that meet the needs of patients and their doctors.

"Medical marijuana is a very complex and emotional issue," Lee said. "Although we are prohibited by law to provide medical marijuana to patients, we strive to deliver exceptional and compassionate care."

Bon Secours Charity Health Systems, which operates Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis, St. Anthony Hospital in Warwick and Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, awaits state Health Department's guidelines, said spokeswoman Helene Guss.

"Our pain physicians say it has wide physician support," Guss said.

Dr. Glen Kay, a Town of Newburgh physician registered to refer patients for cannabis therapies, said through office manager Cindy Krol that blame rests with federal regulations putting marijuana into the same dangerous-drug class as heroin.

The state Health Department has not indicated when it will offer guidance to New York's hospitals. The department said in a statement to the Times Herald-Record that it was reviewing the issue as part of a potential expansion of the medical marijuana program

"...;We are developing proposed regulatory amendments," the department stated, "that would make it easier for hospitals to create policies and procedures to allow certified patients to self-administer approved medical marijuana products."

The state Health Department only this month decided to expand the allowable uses of medical marijuana to include chronic pain. Other conditions include cancer, HIV infections or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, spinal cord damage with intractable spasticity, and Huntington's disease.

It has also decided to allow nurse practitioners to certify patients for medical marijuana therapies. They and doctors cannot prescribe it because of marijuana's federal classification. The state may also allow the drug producers to offer home delivery and increase the number of their dispensaries. The overall aim is to make the drug more readily available.

Meanwhile, Livesey, the Middletown mother, said she won't have her daughter risk going without medical marijuana during a hospital stay. In the more than eight months of taking the drug, Livesey said, Carson has had two seizures, down from as many as several per day.

"The tests wouldn't show what's happening to her now," Livesey said this week. "It would only show the response to being off cannabis."

And that response, Livesey worries, could be a severe seizure.


News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Hospitals In Medical Marijuana Dilemma
Author: James Walsh
Contact: 1-888-620-1700
Photo Credit: Times Herald-Record
Website: Record Online
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