By Marisa DeZara
Recently, the media has been abuzz about New York’s medical marijuana initiative, so much so that major hospitals have taken an interest in joining the fun. Several hospitals have formed alliances with aspiring growers to gain widespread accessibility to medicine for their patients, according to The New York Times.
Friday, June 5, 2015, was the applicant deadline for licensed medical marijuana producers and distributors throughout New York.
Among the applicants was North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, a hospital group. The Times reported: “[North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System] had applied for a license in partnership with Silverpeak Apothecary, a medical marijuana company based in Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized for medical and recreational use. A new company, Silverpeak NY, was created for the application.”
Michael Downing, Chief Executive of the North Shore-L.I.J. system, said he “recognizes the importance of our patients having access to every legal option to manage the symptoms of their illness, if there is clinical evidence to support marijuana’s use for the condition.”
Although hospitals looking to gain entry into the medical marijuana space typically do so for research purposes, licensure could give a patient access to cannabis he or she needs in order to treat varying conditions—the kind of medicine that insurance companies do not cover.
Merging medical marijuana with reputable hospital trade groups could catapult the cannabis industry into a new realm of legitimacy. Looking from the outside in, hospitals prescribing marijuana to patients illuminates the idea that cannabis is truly fulfilling a medical need, an idea that is often undermined in mainstream culture.
Another hospital trade group, GNYHA Ventures, is also part of an application, although further details regarding the nature of its application were not mentioned. The University of Rochester Medical Center and Mount Sinai Health System in Manhattan have also taken a liking to the medical cannabis space, yet neither of the two academic medical centers has submitted an application. Rather, both have “entered into talks, not contracts, with any companies it supported,” The Times reported.
The New York Health Department will select up to five producers within the next month or so, each with the right to operate up to four medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, The Times noted.
Get the hospitals on board with medical marijuana, dissolve the notion of a “weed” doctor, and what you are left with is simply medicine without societal backlash.