9 December 2016
New York Business Journal reports…
State officials on Thursday announced a series of additional changes to New York’s medical marijuana program designed to expand products for patients, ease production and distribution for manufacturers of the drug and expand where and by whom it can be administered.
The announcement marks the third time in as many weeks the state Department of Health has introduced changes to the program, which launched last January as a result of New York’s Compassionate Care Act.
For patients, the new changes should improve access, while strengthening business for registered organizations authorized to make and sell the drug. Dr. Howard Zucker, state health commissioner, called them “major steps forward” for the program.
“These enhancements will continue to strengthen the program and improve patient access by making medical marijuana available to patients suffering from chronic pain and making more products available at dispensing facilities across the state,” he said.
In the past two weeks, the state said it would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to recommend medical marijuana; while adding chronic pain to a list of 10 qualifying conditions. All of the new changes were recommended in late summer as part of a two-year report on the program.
Today’s changes would allow registered organizations to wholesale their products to each other, as well as expand the number of products they manufacture and dispense beyond the five initially required. DOH said allowing wholesaling of extracts and removing the cap on brands will help ensure continuous availability of medical marijuana even if a crop fails.
Western New York is home to two dispensaries, both in Amherst, operated by Bloomfield Industries and PharmaCann LLC. Both currently sell only their own products, as per New York laws.
Advocates say the state is moving in the right direction. Those who need a specific type of product currently might have to travel up to eight hours away because the individual registered organizations currently only sell their own products in their distribution sites.
“Wholesaling is going to be really good,” said Dan Ryszka, a pharmacist and co-founder of Medical Cannabis Connection Inc., who also has two children who receive medical marijuana for severe epileptic seizures. “We don’t know, however, if it’ll be mandated to buy from each other and will that company want to bring in a full product line from a competitor.”