The New York medical marijuana program could face changes after a proposal for an amendment to current legislation has been created. The New York medical marijuana amendment would allow hospitals to create their own policies around patient use of medical marijuana. These policies would have to have a solid foundation, with health and rational use in mind.
The state Department of Health has proposed amending its regulations to allow hospitals to develop procedures under which patients could take medical marijuana and other medications brought from home.
While not specifically outlawed now by department regulations, the amendment would give explicit permission for hospitals to formulate their own rules about patient use of medical marijuana, Jill Montag, a Health Department spokeswoman, said in an email.
Hospitals that want to permit self-administration of medical marijuana or other medications “must develop and follow policies and procedures to ensure the safe self-administration and security of the medication,” according to the Health Department’s proposed amendment to the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.
The regulation, published in the New York State Register on Dec. 21, is subject to a 45-day public-comment period.
The New York medical marijuana amendment is not set in stone yet and there is a while before this proposal can even reach state approval.
No change is planned for the prohibition on vaporization in public areas in hospitals, except for vaporization by patients in separate enclosed rooms. And hospitals cannot dispense medical cannabis. Only five state-approved companies can do that.
Bon Secours Charity Health Systems, which operates Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis, St. Anthony Hospital in Warwick, and Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, will consider formulating rules after the state adopts the regulation following a public comment period, said spokeswoman Helene Guss.
The medical community has not been shy in showing their support for the amendment. Many physicians believe the amendment is favorable to their patients. The New York medical marijuana amendment would likely improve the existing program, according to the medical community.
She noted that “our pain physicians say it has wide physician support.”
It was unclear whether Bon Secours allows patients to bring any medications from home. Guss would only say on Tuesday that it isn’t encouraged by the hospitals.
Rob Lee, spokesman for Orange Regional and Catskill Regional medical centers, did not respond Tuesday to an email and phone message.
Lee previously said in an email that, “Medical marijuana is a very complex and emotional issue,” and while hospitals can’t dispense the drug, “we strive to deliver exceptional and compassionate care.”
Jennifer Livesey, of Middletown, postponed tests for her daughter, Carson, 16, at ORMC this month because she wouldn’t be allowed to bring her medical marijuana to the hospital. She said in an email that medical marijuana was an “emerging medical” issue, not an emotional one.
And it seemed to her that the state gave the issue too little thought before rolling out the program.
“The state wants to allow patients to bring their own medication to the hospitals, but neglected to add that to the original regulations,” she said. “My response is hire someone who understands medical marijuana, so you stop overlooking such important measures as using it in hospitals and schools.”
The proposed change is part of a series of tweaks by the Health Department since dispensing of the drug began on Jan. 7, 2016. On Dec. 1, it decided to include chronic pain as an allowable reason for the use of medical cannabis.
It has also decided to permit nurse practitioners to certify patients for medical marijuana therapies. They and physicians cannot prescribe marijuana because of its federal classification as a dangerous and illegal drug. They can only refer patients to the dispensaries. There were 790 medical professionals registered to participate in the state program, and 11,596 patients certified to use the drug as of Dec. 19, the most recent available figures.
The Health Department is also seeking proposals from the five licensed companies for selling and distributing approved medical marijuana products to each other. The aim is to make more varieties of products available across the state, while also safeguarding against a crop failure at one company or another.