At last! The New York Heath Department has issued final regulations for a statewide medical marijuana program that should officially kick off in 2016. After receiving hundreds of comments and testimony from the general public, the health department determined that these regulations “…strike the required balance by implementing a strong and effective medical marijuana program.”
Critics of the law took issue with many of the rules, including those that prohibit smoking cannabis flower, the restrictive number of qualifying conditions, and the number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed in the state, all factors that put medical patients in an awkward predicament for accessing the medicine they need. The New York Health Department will be issuing licenses for five state-run medical marijuana dispensaries, and there are just 10 qualifying conditions for patients:
However, the state health commissioner does have the authority to expand the number of qualifying conditions in the future. Senator Diane Savino stated that she believes that the legalization of medical marijuana “could provide hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue into the state of New York.”
It sure could! It’s been done before and can easily happen again, but loosening the restrictions on the number of dispensaries in the state would provide much more revenue, and so would ensuring that medicinal cannabis is accessible for a larger number of patients who need it.