Medical marijuana has been legal in New York State for a few years now, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act in 2014. However, there are stipulations in the legislation that not only restrict the types of health conditions patients must have to be eligible for a prescription, but also the doctors who are permitted to write such prescriptions.
As a result, not all doctors in New York—nor by extension, Long Island—can prescribe medical marijuana to their patients. Those permitted to do so have met specific qualifications established by the state.
The official website of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) outlines the requirements a medical professional must fulfill to authorize his or her patients' use of medical marijuana.
One key item on the list is that the individual needs to fall under one of these three categories:
- A licensed and actively practicing physician
- A certified and actively practicing nurse practitioner
- A licensed and actively practicing physician assistant “under the supervision of a physician registered with the New York State medical marijuana program”
Regardless of under what category the person falls, he or she must also complete a four-hour course approved by New York State Commissioner of Health Howard A. Zucker, and register with the NYSDOH. They'll also need to be trained to treat patients with the specific conditions included in the state’s medical marijuana program.
The aforementioned, NYSDOH-approved course has to cover specifically stated information about medical marijuana, including:
- “Pharmacology of marijuana;
- Side effects;
- Adverse reactions;
- Overdose prevention;
- Drug interactions;
- Routes of administration;
- Risks and benefits;
- Warnings and precautions;
- Abuse and dependence;
- And such other components as determined by the commissioner.”
Once the medical professional completes the course, he or she is required to register as a practitioner with the NYSDOH’s medical marijuana program. This involves logging into their Health Commerce System account and filling out an application. There’s a step-by-step guide on the NYSDOH’s official website to simplify the process.
Because New York State only permits certain health conditions to be treated with medical marijuana, the practitioner must be trained to help patients with such disorders and illnesses. These include, but are not limited to: HIV infection or AIDs, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, cancer and Huntington’s disease.