Despite the fact that New York has joined the ranks of the states that have already legalized medical marijuana use, the patients are not satisfied.
In 2016, New York started its medical marijuana program, which turned out to be too restrictive. The point is that according to the new program, only ten conditions can be treated with marijuana. Moreover, as the state has a quite large population, New York lacks doctors and dispensaries patients can visit. Nevertheless, New York medical marijuana program was one of the most expensive ones in the United States.
Taking into account all of the above-mentioned facts, it is hardly surprising that the number of new program patients is too low. According to the latest statistics dated April 11, 2016, the number of such patients is only 2,675. If to compare to the population of New York, the figures are rather disturbing.
The low number of patients can be easily explained. First of all, it is difficult for patients to find a doctor. Secondly, there are patients who have no opportunity to visit a dispensary. Thirdly, there is a lack of necessary medicine in the existing dispensaries. And the last reason is the extremely high prices that are not covered by insurance. Patients have to set aside $150-2000 on medication each month. Let us recall that we are talking just about medical marijuana, not about legal recreational weed.
Medical marijuana patients and activists demand changes to the medical marijuana program, insisting on expanding it. They ask the Assembly Health Committee to include more conditions in the program and make it easier and more affordable for them to take part in it.
Medical marijuana patients offer to introduce a bill, according to which nurse practitioners and physician assistants would be able to take a course and become certified to serve patients. That would make it easier for patients to find a doctor to be registered in the program.
The second bill initiative offered by patients and activists covers the problem of a too limited list of conditions. The patients insist on adding such conditions as Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, dystonia, muscular dystrophy, cachexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
The third bill initiative refers to the increase in the number of dispensaries. Currently, it takes some of the already registered patients several hours to reach the nearest dispensary. Moreover, sometimes, if this dispensary has no necessary medicine, they have to spend several hours more to check if another one has it. On top of being inconvenient, it is also not cost-effective and physically impossible for many patients. That is why this bill initiative is directed at adding four more companies to cultivate and dispense cannabis. That means that there would be eight such companies in New York to satisfy the needs of marijuana patients. Let us recall that each distributor is eligible to have five dispensaries. Today, there are 20 licensed shops in the state, but only 17 of them work.
The last bill initiative would expand the list of legal marijuana products. Smokable cannabis allowance, for instance, would help patients save money on medical expenditures.
New York medical marijuana program was initially put into action to help patients ease their symptoms and relieve their pain, so we hope that the government will listen to the needs of patients and do the right thing.