Hospitals, nursing homes and residences for disabled New Yorkers are among facilities that could obtain medical marijuana for their patients and residents under emergency regulations issued a week ago by the state Health Department.
The facilities would be deemed “caregivers” under the state medical marijuana program. New York’s strict rules permit medical cannabis to be acquired only by patients certified as eligible for the program or their designated caregivers.
The emergency regulations, which went into effect on a temporary basis on Oct. 5, are the latest effort to make the medications accessible to more New Yorkers. Since medical cannabis became available for sale to New Yorkers early last year, the five companies registered to produce and sell the products have faced challenges in finding enough regular customers to be profitable.
New Yorkers qualify to use medical marijuana if they have one of 11 debilitating or life-threatening conditions. There are 32,000 patients certified to use the drug, according to the state Health Department. Earlier this year, data showed that roughly half of all patients registered for the program were repeat buyers.
Prior to the new regulations going into effect, certified patients who entered a hospital, nursing home or other facility could only get medical marijuana if their designated caregivers were able to pick the medications up and deliver them.
Facilities will not be required to participate in the medical marijuana program under the new rules, but will have the option to, said Health Department spokeswoman Jill Montag.
Which employees are able to handle and administer the medications will depend on other regulations governing the type of facility. In addition to the facilities mentioned above, others that qualify to become caregivers under the new regulations include adult homes, community mental health residences, mental health facilities and residential treatment facilities for children and youth
By Claire Hughes – Timesunion