The first ever report from Drug Policy Alliance assessing the progress of New York State medical marijuana program since inception has made shocking revelations. The report threw light on how patients and caregivers are confronted with challenges in accessing medical marijuana.
Affordability biggest concern
New York embraced medical marijuana with a new program early this year, after a wait of nearly eighteen months, to become 23rd state legalizing medical cannabis. After nearly six months of coming into force, the program has little to offer to patients and advocates in terms of access to medication, dispensaries or even participating physicians. Lack of affordability is the biggest drawback of the program, according to the report. Nearly 70% of patients said that their monthly medication costs are $300 and above while 3 in 4 patients were unable to afford the medical treatment.
Several issues stare at patients
In the face of burning issues around the program, the Department of Health published only limited information that included a number of completed registration application by doctors and patients. The numbers are not impressive enough, as only 1% of total physicians in New York, (about 593 physicians) have registered themselves to certify medical marijuana for patients. Over and above this, the absence of publicly available information about participating physicians forces patients to depend on either social media or other less reliable alternatives to seek information.
A more glaring problem is that half of the patients are still looking out for a participating physician, claims the DPA report. Besides this, geographic restrictions are also adding to woes of patients, who have to travel to far places to find a dispensary. 27% of the registered patients or caregivers have said that they travel for 1 to 5 hours to get to a dispensary.
Based on the facts, it can be said that it is testing time for New York, which is often seen as a trendsetter, to do away with these barriers at the earliest or else it might send a wrong message to other states.
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