Since the passing of what are very restrictive medical marijuana laws in NYS many are still unaware this is even an option, and even more are still unable to gain access to it. Medical marijuana by prescription and registration became legal in July of 2014. Since then physicians are left waiting on hospitals to give them the ok to begin prescribing while cancer patients are dying waiting for the medical community to catch up. Richard Kinner, a New York state cancer patient, recently asked his oncologist how to obtain a registration card and prescription for the medical marijuana he hoped would help him fight stage four esophageal cancer. Mr. Kinner was informed by his oncologist that he would be unable to help fulfill this request because the doctor still had yet to complete the four-hour course needed to become a recommending doctor. The four-hour NYSDOH approved course is provided by TheAnswerPage, an established online medical education site, and includes the following topics: the pharmacology of marijuana; contraindications; side effects; adverse reactions; overdose prevention; drug interactions; dosing; routes of administration; risks and benefits; warnings and precautions; and abuse and dependence. The online course will cost $249 to take. Successful completion of the course will provide 4.5 hours of CME credits.
Richard’s son Thurmon wanted to know what the hold-up was, so he asked. The doctors reply was unfortunately typical of most medical establishments in the upstate region of New York. The doctor stated he was not yet prepared to finish the course because the hospital had not come to the decision whether or not to affiliate themselves with recommending medical marijuana to patients in need. As strict as New York’s laws on medical marijuana, and given the limited number of dispensaries in the state, it leads you to wonder why? In fact, under the new law, medical marijuana has stricter regulations than any other medications that are habitually prescribed within the state. The doctor had said the hospital had felt there was not enough scientific background testing in humans to support prescribing this medication. Richard’s physician, however, stated he felt it would be helpful in treating his condition and was willing to help Mr. Kinner locate a doctor who would able to help him with this.
Guthrie Health Care Systems has locations in Northern Pennslyvania and Southern Central New York State, seeing on average 1,000,000 patients throughout twenty-three communities and employing nearly 295 physicians. Guthrie posts on their website that their mission is to work with the communities they serve to help each person attain optimal, life-long health and well-being. They state: We will do so by providing integrated, clinically-advanced services that prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, within an environment of compassion, learning, and discovery. That’s 295 doctors who will NOT be able to help each person obtain optimal, life-long health and well-being.Twenty-three communities whose sick are dying every day. The entire portion of northern Pennsylvania and Southern central New York state are waiting for this hospital to stand by their own words.
For patients like Rick Kinner and his family these hospital “concerns” of an appropriate amount of scientific background or testing on humans seems a little sketchy, considering the extensive amount of information recommending doctors need to learn during their four-hour course. WENY, a TV station located in Elmira NY, a small town serviced by Guthrie Healthcare recently reported Elmira ranked number one in the southern tier for prescription opioid pill abuse. The study had estimated that more than 55% of the Elmira population that receives prescription pain killers abuse the drugs they are prescribed by doctors. Elmira residents commented on the Facebook post, calling for safer alternatives to pain management asking for more relaxed laws on medical marijuana and more ailments be added to the list of approved ailments. However, under the current plan Guthrie has in place, if NY were to add any new illness to the current medical marijuana law it would do nothing to slow the abuse rate, as they are still on the fence for recommending medical marijuana.