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Medicolegal: New York State Medical Marijuana Legal Course Series-Topic II
Participation in New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program
Syllabus Topic II of The New York State Medical Marijuana Legal Course Series starts off with a discussion on practitioner participation as well as patient participation in New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program.
PLEASE ONLY PROCEED WITH READING THIS CONTENT IF IT IS AGREED THAT THIS MATERIAL IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND THAT THE FOREGOING CONTENT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE AND BY USING THIS CONTENT YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND THE PUBLISHER, SPONSOR AND/OR AUTHORS. THE FOREGOING CONTENT SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR COMPETENT LEGAL ADVICE FROM A LICENSED PROFESSIONAL ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE.
A "practitioner" must meet certain regulatory requirements to be authorized to issue a patient certification for medical marijuana under New York State Law: (1) the practitioner must be qualified to treat patients with one or more of the qualifying serious conditions (see Topic I); (2) the practitioner must be licensed and in good standing as a physician and practicing medicine; (3) the practitioner must complete a four-hour educational course approved by NYSDOH (The New York State Practitioner Education - Medical Use of Marijuana Course); and (4) the practitioner must apply for, receive and keep current a registration to issue patient certifications.31 There are currently amendments pending to the CCA that would enable physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners to certify patients for medical marijuana.
The requirements for participation raise key points that are worth addressing. The first requirement listed above specifically mandates the physician to be qualified to treat a patient for the serious conditions that allow for treatment with medical marijuana. The purpose of this regulatory requirement is to prevent "green doctors" (i.e., doctors not treating qualified patients for their serious and debilitating conditions) from augmenting the market, a situation that is more common in California. In other words, the doctors who are issuing the certifications should be qualified to treat the serious conditions for which they are opining that marijuana would assist the patient.
New York is also one of only a few states that require physicians to take a mandatory educational course on medical marijuana, prior to issuing patient certifications. Some physicians may argue that this requirement is an undue burden on physicians and prevents practitioners from easily participating in the Medical Marijuana Program. However, the New York State Legislature aimed to address some crucial problems with the medicalization of marijuana: mainly that there is a large dearth in medical literature, research and training pertaining to medical marijuana. Legislators were concerned about giving physicians the permission to certify medical marijuana without appropriate education and resources to understand contraindications, side effects, risks and benefits, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, abuse and dependence issues, among other concerns. However, as the use of medical marijuana proliferates, it is anticipated that the need for education and training will extend to other specialties and non-physician practitioners.
In order to qualify as an end-user, a patient must (1) be a resident of New York State, or be receiving care and treatment in New York State; and (2) possess a certification issued by a registered practitioner.32