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POLICY STATEMENT: Robust Medical Marijuana Program

Overview

National support for use of marijuana for medical treatment generally stands at 83%, according to an April 2017 poll by Marist/Yahoo. Only 14% opposed its use for medical treatment, while 4% were undecided.

A contemporaneous Quinnipiac University poll reported even higher figures, with 94% of the population nationally and 96% in the northeast (NE), supporting the use of medical marijuana by adults when prescribed by a doctor with only 3% opposed to it and 1% with no opinion.

Quinnipiac University Poll

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have some kind of medical marijuana program.

New York's Medical Marijuana Program

New York State has a medical marijuana program that allows the following severe, debilitating, or life threatening conditions to be treated with medical marijuana:

  • Cancer
  • HIV infection or AIDS
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury with spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Huntington's disease
  • Chronic pain

The severe debilitating or life threatening condition must also be accompanied by one or more of the following associated or complicating conditions:

  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Severe or chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms

Approved forms of ingestion include liquids and oil for vaporization or administration via inhaler as well as capsules to take orally. Smoking is not permitted and the regulations prohibit edibles.

Rating NY's MMJ Program

Americans for Safe Access, an industry advocacy group, rated each state's program from A to F based on

  1. Patients' rights and protection from discrimination
  2. Access to medicine
  3. Ease of navigation
  4. Functionality
  5. Product safety protocols

New York's program received 76 out of 100 points. It got a C, and ranked 23rd out of 44.

Its neighbors Rhode Island, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Maine, all got higher scores.

Americans for Safe Access study

New York's medical marijuana program was faulted that it was difficult to access, and the barriers to entry for medical professionals authorized to recommend medical marijuana discouraged participation. It also places severe restrictions on the methods of ingestion and does not allow smoking or edibles. The Department of Health has been successful in expanding the allowable conditions but is unable or unwilling to expand methods of ingestion.