NYSDOH Announces Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program

Nurse Practitioners Empowered to Certify Patients for Medical Marijuana Through New Regulations

New Proposed Regulation Would Authorize Physician Assistants to Certify Patients for Medical Marijuana

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 22, 2016) - The New York State Department of Health today announced that it has officially filed amendments to the Medical Use of Marijuana regulations that will authorize nurse practitioners to register with the Department to certify patients for medical marijuana as of the end of November. These regulatory amendments will take effect on November 30, 2016, when the notice of adoption will be published in the New York State Register.

In order to register with the Department, nurse practitioners will need to take the Department-approved Medical Use of Marijuana course online and submit their course completions to the Department using the instructions provided on the Department's Medical Marijuana Program Practitioner Information page: www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/practitioner/.

In the interest of further improving patient access, the Department has also filed proposed rulemaking that would enable physician assistants to register with the Department to certify patients for medical marijuana, as long as their supervising physician is also registered to certify patients. The proposed rulemaking will be published on November 30, 2016, and will be subject to a 45-day public comment period. This amendment would not take effect until it is filed for adoption after the public comment period.

"The first year of New York's Medical Marijuana Program has been a success. Over 10,500 patients have been certified by more than 740 registered physicians to date," said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker. "Authorizing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients will only help to further strengthen the program and improve patient access."

Nearly 19,000 nurse practitioners and more than 11,000 physician assistants are licensed to practice in New York State, where they are already authorized to prescribe controlled substances (including opioids). Empowering them to issue medical marijuana certifications will help patients suffering from severe, debilitating or life-threating conditions, particularly in many rural counties where far fewer physicians are available.

In addition to expanding the certification options for patients, the Department is continuing its review of evidence for the use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from chronic pain. It is anticipated that a decision will be made by the end of the month.

The Department has also provided guidance to registered organizations regarding home delivery, and has been reviewing home delivery proposals from registered organizations consistent with its guidance.

The Department continues to implement other recommendations from the two-year report on the Medical Marijuana Program, including:

  • Making the registration process more user friendly;
  • Increasing the number of laboratories in New York State that are certified to test medical marijuana products;
  • Continuing federal outreach;
  • Making it easier for patients to locate practitioners;
  • Completing an assessment of possible regulatory amendments to make it easier for healthcare facilities and schools to possess, secure, and administer patients' medical marijuana products under limited circumstances necessary to safeguard the health of those patients;
  • Reviewing additional brands beyond the initial five required by regulation; and
  • Registering five additional organizations over the next two years to expand patient access to medical marijuana throughout New York State.

For more information on the two-year report for the Medical Use of Marijuana under the Compassionate Care Act, visit:https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.