New York State has finally launched its medical marijuana program 18 months after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act. However, patients in Western New York are finding the first day very confusing.
Only 150 doctors statewide have been certified by the NYS Health Department to act as providers for medical marijuana. Their names have not been made public and that is making it difficult for patients hoping to get access to the drug.
Requirements that patients need to register with New York State is also causing much confusion.
Two medical marijuana dispensaries were approved for this part of NYS - both in Amherst.
At PharmaCannis on Northpointe Parkway in Amherst, the facility was open but was still waiting for a supply of medical marijuana in the mid-afternoon.
Bloomfield Industries also opened its dispensary on South Union Road in Williamsville, but the operation was still under construction, even though workers said it was handling registered patients.
Late in the day, protesters from the Buffalo Cannobis Movement stood outside the Bloomfield dispensary holding signs. The protestors said they were angry with the way the medical marijuana program was implemented by the state.
Wendy Hart, who suffers from a variety of ailments, said she is upset with the lack of information that was provided to patients and felt excessive red-tape was making it an unnecessary hardship on people looking to get the drug.
Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, for the Dent Neurologic Institute, said eight doctors at the institute are certified to prescribe medical marijuana. However, Mechtler said many physicians are worried about who they treat because dispensing the medicine inappropriately can lead to a doctor losing his license and being charged with a felony crime.
Stay in Touch Anywhere, Anytime with News, Weather and Video -- Download the WKBW app:
Or Sign Up for Our Newsletters -- Delivered to Your E-mail: