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


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.”


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.

Times Union: On the road to greater treatment

Nine-year-old Haley Hilt rarely slept, hardly interacted or played with her siblings and couldn’t walk or feed herself.

The seizures Haley has suffered from since she was about a month old have been debilitating, requiring over a dozen different anti-epileptic medications, special diets and even neurosurgery – all doing nothing to help alleviate the challenges the East Schodack child endured on a daily basis.

But after roughly nine months of using liquid-based medical marijuana for Haley’s epilepsy – recently legalized in New York State – her quality of life has improved.

“Since starting it, her seizures have decreased by approximately 75 percent,” Haley’s mother Melissa Hilt said. “She is now taking steps, she’s attempting to feed herself and she said her first word. It’s truly been a miracle for us.”

Vireo Health of New York opened its fourth medical marijuana dispensary in the state Sunday on Fuller Road in Colonie, ensuring that the Hilts – who previously travelled three hours one-way to the Vireo location in White Plains – and other patients dedicated to the company have a closer spot to secure the medication. It also has offices in White Plains, Binghamton and Queens.

The Fuller Road location is the third medical marijuana dispensary to open in the Capital Region this year. Others include PharmaCannis in Guilderland and Etain in Albany.

Read the full article here.

News Channel 10 ABC: New local medical marijuana dispensary helps family with epileptic daughter

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Today marks the grand opening of Vireo Health’s new medical marijuana dispensary on Fuller Road.

Lines of people lined up beforehand, but for one young girl and her family, the dispensary is already helping make a big difference in their lives.

Suffering from epilepsy, nine-year-old Haley Hilt has been struggling to find a cure to help.

“Haley has been having seizures since she was about a month old,” said mother Melissa Hilt.

Any measures used to try and prevent them came up short, time and time again.

“We’ve been through 15 different epileptic medications, special diets, and she even had surgery to try and stop the seizures,” Melissa said.

Medical Marijuana treatments remained as the other option to try and treat Haley.

“The more I researched it, the more I was just shocked at how well these kids were doing and I thought, nothing else is working why not give this a shot,” Melissa said.

The family decided to go for it and in February, Melissa began Haley’s treatment on Indigo, a liquid based medical cannabis.

Since starting the treatments, her seizures have decreased nearly 75 percent.

Watch the full story here.


For Immediate Release

May 13, 2016

Media Contact: Andrew Mangini – (518) 326-6400 or (518) 598-6324

Vireo’s Campaign Against Google Goes National

13,000+ Digital Activists from 50 States Sign ‘Google: Stop Rejecting Medical Marijuana Ads’ Petition

New York, NY – Vireo Health of New York (“Vireo”), one of five companies licensed by the New York State Department of Health to produce and distribute medical cannabis, has received an outpouring of public support behind their campaign urging Google (NASDAQ – GOOG) to stop rejecting advertisements containing the words “medical cannabis,” and “medical marijuana.” The company’s Change.org online petition has now amassed more than 13,000 supporters, garnering signatures from activists in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. The petition can be found here.

“The fight for sensible medical cannabis policies ought not be limited to the halls of Congress or state legislatures, but must also extend into corporate board rooms. Corporations like Google, must be held accountable for their actions,” said Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health New York. “Until Google lives up to its own ‘do the right thing’ corporate value, we will continue to shine a bright light on those policies that restrict our ability to freely communicate with New Yorkers who suffer with debilitating pain from life-threatening conditions such as cancer, ALS and HIV/AIDS.”

This milestone represents the latest development in a series of events which began on February 14. That day, Vireo received an initial rejection notice for advertisements containing the aforementioned terms. Following a public plea for the tech giant to reverse their decision, Google instead proceeded by rejecting several additional ads, even those without the words ‘medical cannabis’ or ‘medical marijuana.’

Vireo contends that its products, which cannot be sold for recreational purposes under the New York State Compassionate Care Act, ought not fall under Google’s advertising policy, which prohibits “the promotion of substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation.”

Vireo’s leadership has made repeated efforts to discuss the situation with Google. Additionally, Hoffnung has made himself available, offering to discuss this matter personally, with help from a group of Vireo’s patients. The tech giant has yet to respond to any of these requests.

More Information:

  • April 20, 2016: Vireo launches an online petition to add supporters to their cause.
  • April 7, 2016: State Senator Diane Savino, sponsor of the Compassionate Care Act, sent a letter to Google asking the company to reconsider its stance.
  • March 18, 2016: Rejection Notice for Ads that did not use the terms ‘medical cannabis’ or ‘medical marijuana’
  • March 15, 2016: Letter to Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin
  • February 14, 2016: Rejection Notice for Ads that use the terms ‘medical cannabis’ or ‘medical marijuana’


About Vireo Health of New York

Vireo Health of New York is a physician-led company dedicated to providing best-in-class cannabis-based medications and top quality patient care. The company provides a wide array of pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based products formulated from the highest quality, pesticide-free plants and utilizes its separation chemistry capabilities to create products with novel cannabinoid combinations. Vireo Health of New York is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vireo Health, LLC. For more information, visit http:/www.vireohealthny.com.

About the New York State Compassionate Care Act

New York State Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law on July 5, 2014. It allows patients to use medical cannabis if they have been diagnosed with a specific severe, debilitating or life threatening condition that is accompanied by an associated or complicating condition.

The law identifies several severe, debilitating or life threatening conditions including: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and epilepsy. The associated or complicating conditions are cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe or persistent muscle spasms.

Physicians must complete a four-hour New York State Department of Health approved course and register with the Department to certify patients. Practitioners must consult the New York State Prescription Monitoring Program Registry prior to issuing a certification to a patient for medical cannabis.

Patients who are certified by their practitioners must apply to the Department to obtain a registry identification card in order to obtain medical cannabis in accordance with any recommendations made by the patient’s practitioner. During the patient registration process, certified patients may designate up to two caregivers, who must also register with the Department, to obtain and administer medical cannabis products on behalf of the patients.

Registered organizations may only manufacture medical cannabis products in forms approved by the Commissioner. Approved forms currently include liquid or oil preparations for metered oromucosal or sublingual administration or administration per tube, metered liquid or oil preparations for vaporization, and capsules for oral administration. The Compassionate Care Act expressly provides that a certified medical use of cannabis does not include smoking. For more information, visit https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.


Let’s work together to make 4/20/16 not only a day of celebration but also a day of activism. The struggle for sensible cannabis policy ought not be limited to the halls of Congress or state legislatures but must also extend into corporate board rooms. Corporations must be held accountable for their cannabis policies.

We urge Google to accept advertisements using the words ‘medical cannabis’ and ‘medical marijuana’ and stop rejecting advertisements designed for patients with life-threatening and debilitating conditions like cancer, ALS and HIV/AIDS.

Google’s hypercritical behavior is baffling.

Click here to sign petition.


State Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat who co-sponsored legislation creating New York’s medical marijuana program, is calling on Google to reconsider its prohibition on advertisements for medical marijuana products.

In a letter sent last Thursday to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Savino wrote that the Compassionate Care Act, the law that created the state-run medical marijuana program, “created a strong and tightly regulated model that takes every step possible to prevent any diversion or recreational use of medical cannabis.”

“I have great concerns with a policy that impedes patients’ ability to access information about a legal medical treatment,” Savino wrote of Google’s advertising policy, which prohibits advertisements for substances that “alter mental state for the purpose of recreation or otherwise induce ‘highs.’” “Patients and their caregivers need access to information about medical cannabis, and the denial of that access can only lead to additional pain and suffering. The inability of New York’s licensed medical cannabis companies to utilize Google’s advertising platform will prevent patients and health care providers from acquiring an understanding of a beneficial treatment option for severe and debilitating health conditions.”

Read the full story here.


As the presidential candidates make various stops around New York ahead of the state’s April 19 primary, a medical marijuana company is asking that candidates clarify their positions on medical cannabis.

Vireo Health of New York, one of five companies licensed to produce and sell medical cannabis in the state, is inviting the five presidential candidates to visit its cultivation and lab facilities at Tryon Technology Park in Fulton County. After the tour, candidates will be asked to make a public statement clarifying their positions on medical cannabis. Vireo is asking candidates who are unable to visit the facility before New York’s primary to make a public statement on the issue. Vireo’s April 11 letter has gone to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, both Democrats, along with Republicans Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Listen to the full story here.