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Medical marijuana now available for chronic pain in New York

Starting Wednesday, chronic pain is a qualifying condition for patients to be treated with medical marijuana in New York state. (Photo: SBG file)

Albany, N.Y. (WHAM) - Starting Wednesday, chronic pain is a qualifying condition for patients to be treated with medical marijuana in New York state.

The measure was announced back in December by the Department of Health.

Ten other conditions currently qualify for medical marijuana treatment in New York. Those are cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and Huntington's disease.

Additional amendments filed back in November now allow nurse practitioners and physician's assistants to certify patients for medical marijuana use.

However, cost is a major factor in certifying patients who continually use the drug. According to the New York State Department of Health, 12,993 patients were certified to receive medical marijuana as of January 2017. Three quarters of them - 10,250 - purchased the first dose.

Just half of those first-time patients who purchased the dose went on to become repeat customers.

One of the reasons: Medical marijuana is not covered by insurance and must be paid for in cash. Doses start at about $150 a month but can go much, much higher.

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