On July 12, emergency regulations were filed by the New York State Department of Health to immediately allow people to register for medical marijuana for any type of condition that would otherwise be treated by opioids. This addition means that those experiencing severe pain, (chronic pain is already a qualifying condition) can obtain NY cannabis-based products for their treatment.
In a press release, the Department of Health stated, “In addition, within the next week, certified patients and designated caregivers will be able to print temporary registry ID cards. This will allow them to purchase medical marijuana products more quickly after registering for the program. Patients may use the temporary registry ID card in conjunction with a government issued photo identification to purchase medical marijuana products from a registered organization’s dispensing facility.”
They also quoted New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker as saying, “Medical marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain that may also reduce the chance of opioid dependence. Adding opioid replacement as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana offers providers another treatment option, which is a critical step in combating the deadly opioid epidemic affecting people across the state.”
Clearly New York is on top of the opioid crisis and the health department clearly sees cannabis as the anti-gateway drug, helping those in the throes of addiction to reduce and even stop the use of opioids. Cannabis can also prevent addiction from even starting if it is prescribed as a first line of defense.
It’s smart policy and a great harm reduction technique that is overdue, and very welcome. New York could be setting a new president that will affect patients in and out of the Empire State. As of now, there are over 62,250 certified patients in New York, and with new dispensaries popping up in both up- and downstate, and with this new qualifying condition, there are bound to be more soon.
To qualify for a medical marijuana registry card in New York, you must have one of the following conditions: cancer, HIV or AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, PTSD, chronic pain and, as of now, severe pain as an opioid replacement.