DPA Report: NY Medical Cannabis Program Hard to Access

The Drug Policy Alliance issued a report saying patients and caregivers in New York State face significant obstacles to obtain medical marijuana because of geographic barriers, high product costs, and a dearth of physicians certified to recommend MMJ.

The findings raise questions about the viability of New York’s medical cannabis industry as it’s currently structured, and whether MMJ prices will need to fall. The program was launched in January.

DPA and Compassionate Care NY, the state’s largest grassroots organization of patients and caregivers, surveyed 255 people who had sought to access the state’s MMJ program.

More than three-quarters of patients and caregivers who bought MMJ from a dispensary said they wouldn’t be able to afford the monthly cost of medicine, while 70% of respondents said their monthly costs were $300 or more.

The report also found that more than half of patients and caregivers who responded hadn’t yet found a doctor to certify them. Among those, about 60% had been trying for three to four months to find a registered physician.

Only 593 New York physicians – less than 1% of all doctors in the state – have registered to certify patients for MMJ, the report said.

The report also said 27% of registered patients/caregivers travelled one to five hours to access a dispensary, while nearly two of five reported the dispensary didn’t carry the specific medical cannabis recommended by their physician.