Ever since New York launched its medical marijuana program at the beginning of last year, patients have been forced to try and track down a physician willing to help them gain access to the herb without any guidance whatsoever.
However, on Friday, the state New York Department of Health released a list of healthcare providers that can offer medical marijuana recommendations to their patients. The list, which consists of a modest 315 doctors, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners, was assembled to provide people suffering from a variety of conditions with all of the information they need to successfully get on a path towards cannabis medicine.
But, unfortunately, the new list still does not account for the majority of the 1,000 healthcare professionals the state says are presently willing and able to discuss medical marijuana treatment plans. Several hundred have reportedly chosen to maintain their anonymity, because, while they may be enthusiastic about making cannabis a part of their practice, many are uncomfortable about publicizing their involvement.
"A lot of doctors don't want their name out," nurse practitioner Terri D. Haskins told the Democrat & Chronicle. "They knew when we signed up, you could pick that you wanted your name put out there or not put out.”
Patients have been complaining for the better part of a year that it is difficult to track down doctors who can assist them in becoming medical marijuana cardholders.
The state says it took so long to make this information available to the public because it did not have all the necessary permissions from healthcare providers to move forward.
Last year, the state made the decision to allow patients with chronic pain to get involved with the program. Since then, the state’s patient registry has grown to more than 18,000 people.
“We are improving access to medical marijuana for patients in need across New York State," Health Commissioner 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.”