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New York is set to get its medical marijuana program off the ground in January 2016. However, officials are saying that effective access to medical marijuana may be quite limited due to a lack of doctors qualified to recommend patients for the program.

In order to get approval to be part of the medical marijuana program in New York, a patient must get a recommendation from a doctor with whom he or she has a “long-standing and bona fide relationship.” In order to qualify to recommend marijuana — they cannot ‘prescribe’ it under federal law — doctors are required to take a 4-hour long online class priced at $250.

Melissa Meyer, of the medical marijuana education group Health MJ, said: “People would love to start getting their recommendations, but the challenge is that the [doctors’] educational course was just released. Patients are ready, but have to be able to get doctors on board.” Currently, there exist no resources designated to help patients get in contact with doctors qualified to recommend medical marijuana.

Another problem is the lack of qualifying conditions covered under the Compassion Care Act. The Act only covers 10 “severe, debilitating, or life-threatening” conditions, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, ALS, spinal cord damage, IBS, neuropathies, and Huntington’s disease.

When patients finally do get in contact with a doctor able to recommend marijuana, they may find that they have to spend between $300 and $600 a month for medicine, current estimates suggest.

You can read more on the subject at the full article from High Times.

Photo Credit: Phillip Grondin

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