New York’s medical marijuana reforms could expand patient pool

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Two changes to New York’s medical marijuana program – one this week and the other coming next week – could bolster the state’s lagging MMJ patient pool.

A new rule allowing physician assistants to certify patients for MMJ took effect Wednesday, the Albany Times Union reported, following an earlier regulation that permitted nurse practitioners to do the same.

And on March 22, chronic pain will formally be added to the list of qualifying conditions that allows patients to register to purchase medical cannabis.

Both changes, particularly the addition of chronic pain, could have a significant impact on the number of participants in New York’s MMJ program, which, as of Wednesday, stood at just 14,683.

Chronic pain patients make up a majority of medical cannabis consumers in states such as Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota and New Jersey.

The low patient count – along with other burdensome regulations that include a ban on smokable flower – have hounded New York’s five licensed medical marijuana producers. There have been reports of registered patients not making many purchases, and one financially troubled licensee was sold to a California management firm in January.