New Yorkers suffering from chronic pain will soon be able to seek relief with marijuana, the State Health Department announced Thursday.
“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,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker.
“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,” Zucker said.
Chronic pain will join a list of 10 other ailments that qualify for medical marijuana treatment. The others are:
- HIV infection or AIDS
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
The significant change will take time to implement. The agency first needs to develop a proposed regulatory amendment with language specifying the chronic pain conditions that would qualify. That proposal will then be followed by a period of public comment. The change is expected to take place early next year.
The news is considered a major breakthrough for patients. “I think patients in New York deserve to run a victory lap over this,” said Kassandra Frederique, the state director of the Drug Policy Alliance told the New York Daily News. “I think it is fair to say that this could affect thousands of patients in New York.”
Currently, the New York medical marijuana is considered one of the most stringently regulated in the nation and the program has been slow to grow compared to other parts of the nation. In states that allow patients to obtain marijuana for chronic or intractable pain, between 1 percent and 2 percent of the citizens get a medical card.
For more information on the report for the Medical Use of Marijuana under the Compassionate Care Act, visit: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.
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