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NY Health Department Releases Two-Year Review of MMJ Program

The New York Department of Health has recommended that five more organizations be authorized to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana over the next two years, and that simplifications are made to the practitioner registration process, according to a review of the program by the department.

As of June 15, there are 601 practitioners registered to recommend cannabis to patients in the state. However, 19 counties do not yet have even one physician enrolled in the program. Nearly 5,000 patients have enrolled, with neuropathies representing the greatest percentage of certifications (34 percent); severe or chronic pain associated with a qualifying condition has the greatest percentage of certifications (54 percent). The average age for patients enrolled in the program is 52.

Currently there are only 17 dispensaries operating in just nine of the state’s 62 counties and New York City. In their report, the department recommends a delivery system that would help ensure adequate access to the drug.

The Health Department has approved nearly all of the patient applications (99.9 percent), with wait times for certification taking about five days; down from 11 days at the program’s start in January.

The Department of Health also recommended “continuing outreach,” encouraging the federal government to remove barriers for medical cannabis research and to open up financial institutions to the medical marijuana sector.

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