AP: New York is loosening restrictions in its nearly year-old medical marijuana law

NY tweaks medical pot law but still no talk of legalization

 New York is loosening some restrictions in its nearly year-old medical marijuana law but there is no sign the state is in any hurry to embrace full legalization

By DAVID KLEPPER

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York is loosening restrictions in its nearly year-old medical marijuana law but, to the dismay of some pot advocates, there is no sign the state is in any hurry to join eight other states in embracing full legalization.

Among the latest to do so are two in the Northeast — Massachusetts and Maine — and the huge state of California. Still, Gov. Andrew Cuomo remains a skeptic of outright recreational use and legalization faces challenges in the Legislature too.

“It’s unlikely to happen in the short term,” predicted physician Kyle Kingsley, chairman of Vireo Health, one of five companies selected under New York’s law to grow and sell cannabis for medical uses. “But I do think what’s going on in Massachusetts, it helps knock down the stigma … I think it’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of time.”

New York’s medical marijuana law still has some of the strictest rules among the more than 20 states that allow medical pot. Among its requirements: that pot products can’t be dispensed in smokeable form and that physicians complete a training course to approve the drug for patients.

Read the entire article here.

Times Union: State to add chronic pain to list of conditions medical marijuana can treat

New Yorkers suffering from certain chronic pain will be able to use medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms, the state Department of Health announced on Thursday.

That addition to the strict list of conditions treatable by medical marijuana products is one of the most significant strides the state has taken to expand the program to date.

It’s not yet clear exactly what kind of chronic pain will be treatable under the program’s rules. The department will develop a regulatory amendment, which will specify the chronic pain conditions that will qualify patients for the program. That amendment is to be published for public comment soon, the department said.

Already on the list of 10 treatable conditions are cancer, HIV infection or AIDS and epilepsy, among others.

The addition follows a lengthy review by the department and comes as it also moves to allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients for the state-run program, which is among the nation’s most strict.

“After conducting a thorough review of the scientific literature, it became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement. “Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York State, and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program.”

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Read more here to find out what Vireo Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stephen Dahmer, and Vireo Health of New York Chief Executive Officer, Ari Hoffnung, had to say about the recent expansion!

The Daily Gazette: Vireo cheers Department of Health medical marijuana decision

— An official at medical marijuana company Vireo Health applauded the state Department of Health’s recent decision to add chronic pain as a qualifying condition for the New York’s medical marijuana program, but said the company will not know the impact of the decision until the state reveals how it will define chronic pain.

On Thursday, Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced that after conducting a thorough review of scientific literature regarding marijuana’s effect on chronic pain, the department will develop a regulatory amendment that will “include language specifying the chronic pain conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana,” according to a DOH statement.

The statement said the department will publish the proposed regulatory amendment for public comment shortly.

DOH data show that 750 physicians have registered for the state’s medical marijuana program, qualifying 10,730 patients as of Nov. 29.

Vireo Health of New York, a subsidiary of Vireo Health, operates a medical marijuana-processing facility at the Tryon Tech Park in Fulton County.

Vireo Health CEO Kyle Kingsley told The Daily Gazette that the state’s decision is very welcome news, and that the company is eagerly awaiting the state’s forthcoming regulatory amendment. Kingsley said the company saw a sharp uptick in business after chronic pain was added to the medical marijuana program in Minnesota, where Vireo operates a processing facility.

Read the entire article here.

Dr. Kyle Kingsley discusses Massachusetts legalizing recreational pot

NewsChannel 13’s Benita Zahn speaks with Dr. Kyle Kingsley, CEO of Vireo Health, about the impact the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts will have on medical marijuana use in New York State.

Watch the web extra in its entirety here.