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Johan Hansson

New York’s Democrat-led Assembly passed two bills yesterday to improve patient access to medical marijuana under the state’s Compassionate Care Act. A.9510 would authorize nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients for the program, while A.10123 would require the Department of Health to list registered practitioners’ information on their website.

A.9510 is sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D), who championed the Compassionate Care Act for years before it became law. The bill would not only permit PAs and NPs to certify patients but it would provide them the same training as physicians to become registered with the program.

“New York law allows NPs and PAs to prescribe the strongest and most dangerous controlled substances, but not medical marijuana,” Gottfried said in a press release. “Patients in need should not be denied access to critical medication just because they are treated by a PA or NP.”

The measure passed the Assembly 100-30 and has been sent to the Senate Health Committee.

A.10123, sponsored by Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D), aims to overcome the “major obstacle” for patients of finding registered practitioners. New York has certified 600 physicians under the program, but there is no publicly available list of those doctors.

“As a result, severely ill patients are forced to cold-call doctor after doctor in hopes of finding one, or try to find information through social media or other potentially unreliable sources,” the justification of legislation says.

The bill allows practitioners who do not want to be listed to opt-out. The list would be made available 60 days after it became law.

“I believe that current law – both the Compassionate Care Act and the Freedom of Information Law – requires that this list be public, as was the legislative intent. But apparently it needs to be spelled out.” Gottfried, a co-sponsor on the bill, said.

The bill has been sent to the Senate Health Committee.

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