Enrollment opens online as patients wait for doctors to register
Patients with severe illnesses can now begin enrolling in the New York State's Medical Marijuana Program.
The goal is to have the treatment available early next month. But, many patients say they're already hitting a major roadblock.
Susan Rusinko, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has no idea if her specialist can supply what she needs.
"I don't have an appointment with my neurologist until January 18th. On Jan. 18th I have to find out, in fact, if he is registered," she said.
Before anything can happen, physicians must register with the New York State Department of Health.
The Health Department requires a 4-hour course online for physicians, covering topics like side effects; overdose prevention; drug interactions; and dosing. The course will cost $249.
Then, physicians can give a certification to patients who qualify.
Patients must apply for a registry I.D. online before they can buy medical marijuana from a registered dispensary.
Local advocates for multiple sclerosis patients say they've hit dead-ends finding specialists willing to learn more from them and vow to take the course.
"Initially I had sent out about 60 letters to neurologists/nurse practitioners in our service area," said Annette Simiele with MS Resources of Central New York. "I was really very disheartened that I only had one physician in our service area express any interest."
If doctors sign up, patients will find dispensaries in Central New York.
While the treatment can't be smoked...pills, liquid or oil forms are approved.
But there is fear that too many people will be relying on a small pool of physicians.
"The Health Department certainly has not put anything up on the website as far as what doctors have taken the course right now. So, we have no idea who has taken it in our area or anyplace else for that matter," Rusinko adds.
After watching so many friends suffer, she's anxiously waiting for one more announcement from the New York State Health Commissioner, who must soon decide if Alzheimer's disease, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, post traumatic stress disorder, and rheumatoid arthritis should be added to the list of eligible conditions.
Right now, only specific debilitating conditions are eligible including cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington's disease. According the DOH website, "the associated or complicating conditions are cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms".
Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by LOCALSYR
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