Beginning November 30, nurse practitioners will be eligible to register with the health department to certify patients to use medical marijuana.
Previously, only physicians were able to certify patients.
In order to register with the health department, nurse practitioners will need to take the department-approved "Medical Use of Marijuana" course online and submit their course completions to the health department.
The health department has also proposed an amendment to allow physician assistants to also be able to register with the health department to certify patients for medical marijuana, as long as their supervising physician is also registered to certify patients.
The amendment pertaining to physician assistants is subject to a 45-day public comment period which will begin on November 30, 2016. The health department would then have to file the amendment for adoption.
New York State Health Department officials have declared the first year of the state's medical marijuana program a success. To date, more than 10,500 patients have been certified by more than 740 physicians, according to officials.
Authorizing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients will only help to further strengthen the program and improve patient access,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker.
Zucker said he hopes including nurse practitioners and physicians assistants in the certification process will help patients in rural areas of the state where there are few physicians available.
In addition to expanding the certification options for patients, the department is continuing its review of evidence for the use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from chronic pain. The department hopes to make a decision by the end of the month.