ALBANY -- The state Health Department on Friday released a list of 315 practitioners who can prescribe medical marijuana in New York after criticism that patients were unable to access a public list of doctors to visit.
Supporters of medical marijuana in New York said the program had been hindered since it started in January 2016 in part because people couldn't readily find out who they could see to get the drug to help them with their illnesses.
The state Health Department, though, said it couldn't release a list without the practitioners' consent, so it took a long time to create.
Indeed, the list is less than one third of all the doctors, physicians' assistant and nurse practitioners who are registered to prescribe the drug in non-smokeable forms. There are nearly 1,000 prescribers registered in New York, according to the health department.
The public list includes 17 practitioners in Westchester County and nine in Rockland County.
“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.”
Physician assistants can register with the Health Department to certify patients, as long as their supervising physician is also registered.
The changes have helped: Since the addition of chronic pain in March, an additional 3,356 patients have become certified for the program, an 18 percent spike -- bringing the total number certified to receive medical marijuana to 18,348 patients, the state said.
The state Health Department said while it can't release a list of all the doctors registered with the state without their consent, doctors do have access to a private database of all the enrolled physicians. So a patient's health-care provider should be able to make a referral.
New York has five manufacturers that operate 20 dispensaries around New York.
The five manufacturing facilities are in Queens; Rochester; Fulton County near Amsterdam; Warren County in the North Country; and Orange County in the Hudson Valley.
Dispensing sites include locations in Yonkers and White Plains in Westchester County.
The state is also considering letting more companies manufacturer and sell medical marijuana, but the current companies are suing to block the expansion.
To see the list of who can prescribe medical marijuana, go here: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/practitioner/public_list.htm
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