It would be easier for patients to get medical marijuana under proposed new rules announced Tuesday by the state Health Department.
The drug could be delivered to patients’ homes. Nurse practitioners would be able to certify patients for the program. The hardship waiver for the $50 application fee would be expanded.
The proposals come as the Health Department’s response to feedback from doctors, patients and those who dispense the drug.
“We are constantly evaluating the program to make it more effective for patients and practitioners, and we believe that the implementation of these recommendations will do just that,” said Dr. Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner, in a statement.
New York’s medical marijuana law, approved in 2014, is one of the more restrictive in the country. Two companies set up medical marijuana dispensaries in Amherst, the only outlets in Western New York.
The state’s network of dispensaries was set to open in January, though patients and advocates complained of supply problems and registration and certification difficulties early on.
As of Tuesday, 7,005 patients and 677 physicians around the state have registered.
Kate Hintz, a patient advocate with Compassionate Care NY, which worked to pass the law, said many patients do not end up buying the drug after getting registered.
“We hear from more people who are having issues than who are having success,” Hintz said.
A two-year report on the program, based on data collected through June, included information on the operations of the medical marijuana program. The report, released last week, also included a series of recommendations on how to improve access to medical marijuana, including:
• Allow organizations licensed to dispense medical marijuana to begin offering home delivery service.
• Allow nurse practitioners to certify patients.
• Look for ways to make it easier for patients to find a doctor in their area who has registered for the program.
• Investigate the evidence behind treating chronic pain with medical marijuana.