New Yorkers Suffering Chronic Pain Will Finally Be Eligible For Medical Marijuana Next Week

The Empire State Building

After a long and winding process, New York’s Health Department announced chronic pain sufferers will finally have access to medical marijuana beginning Wednesday.

To recap: New York’s medical marijuana program began in 2016, but immediately faced criticism for being too restrictive. The state addressed these concerns in December by adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition, though an access date and definition of symptoms were not made immediately available.

The state’s Health Department now defines chronic pain as “having lasted three months or more beyond onset, or the practitioner reasonably anticipates such pain to last three months or more beyond onset.”

“Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York state, and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program,” Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement.

New York now has 11 conditions which qualify for medical marijuana treatment: Chronic pain, cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, spinal damage, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and Huntington’s disease.

The state currently has five companies licensed to sell and grow medical marijuana — each has four dispensaries– and nearly 900 health-care professionals who have registered to prescribe medical marijuana.