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State releases list of medical marijuana providers

New York has published a partial list of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants registered to certify patients for using medical marijuana.

The list on the Health Department's website includes the 32 percent of medical professionals who have consented to make their names public, including 15 in Western New York. The Health Department says it is prohibited from releasing names unless consent is given.

In March, the state added chronic pain as a qualifying condition for using medical marijuana, in addition to such conditions as cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS.

There were 18,348 patients approved for medical marijuana as of May 5, and 995 practitioners certified to approve patients to buy and use it. Of those patients, more than 3,350 were added since the addition of chronic pain, according to the state.

"We are improving access to medical marijuana for patients in need across New York State," Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement. "As we have said from the very beginning, we will continue to grow this program responsibly and help ease the suffering of those who may benefit from this treatment option."

Medical marijuana has been dispensed in New York since January 2016, following Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's signing of the Compassionate Care Act. By law, medical marijuana cannot be smoked, and is most often ingested as liquid drops placed under the tongue or through a vapor process. However, patients have complained about difficulty finding doctors who will approve them to use the drug.

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