The transparency of New York’s Medical Marijuana Program has been questioned by many New Yorkers, but on Aug. 19, 2016, the New York State Department of Health released a two-year report on the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Under the Compassionate Care Act, as confirmed by a staff member with the NYS Medical Marijuana Program.
On June 15, 2016, the report’s data was obtained from the NYSDOH’s Medical Marijuana Data Management System and the Prescription Monitoring Program Registry.
The 13-page report gives an overview of the program’s activities since Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act on July 7, 2014, as well as providing recommendations to the governor and legislature.
Following the report’s Medical Marijuana Program Implementation Timeline, the report charts the number of practitioner registrations from Oct. 20, 2015 to June 15, 2016, and also provides the number of registered practitioners per county; however, the report does not provide any additional identifying information regarding the registered practitioners. According to an update posted on Aug. 9, the program has had 656 physicians register for the NYS Medical Marijuana Program.
The report also charts the number of new patients who have been certified from Dec. 23, 2015 to June 15, 2016. According to an update posted on Aug. 9, registered practitioners have certified 6,415 patients.
According to the report, the average patient age is 52.08 years; neuropathies account for 34.09 percent of certifications, the highest percentage of certifications for a qualifying condition; as an associated condition, severe or chronic pain accounts for 53.53 percent of certifications; at 25.51 percent, patients in the 51-60 age group had the highest number of certifications; and 13.79 percent of certified patients were certified due to terminal illness.
In addition to certifications by age and qualifying condition, the report also addresses the efficiency of the registration process. Even though the NYSDOH has up to 30 days to process each potential patient’s application, the average time from certification date to registration date has improved from 11.27 days to 5.4 days, with the NYSDOH approving 99.9 percent of applicants.
The report makes some of the following recommendations:
- Nurse Practitioners should be authorized to certify eligible New Yorkers for medical marijuana;
- health care facilities and schools should have easier means to possess, secure and administer medical marijuana under certain circumstances;
- program regulations should be amended to streamline manufacturing and expand the ability of registered organizations to market program participation;
- home delivery should be evaluated;
- more brands should be made available to patients;
- five additional organizations should be registered over the next two years as a means of meeting demands; and
- the practitioner registration process should be simplified, including the possibility of providing public access to a list of registered practitioners in the state.
A previously published report from the Drug Policy Alliance, released on June 13, 2016, echoes many of the recommendations made by NYSDOH’s two-year report.