Pubdate: Tue, 27 Dec 2016
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Record
Author: Alex Breitler, Record Staff Writer


The state Department of Health has proposed amending its regulations to
allow hospitals to develop procedures under which patients could take
medical marijuana and other medications brought from home.

While not specifically outlawed now by department regulations, the
amendment would give explicit permission for hospitals to formulate their
own rules about patient use of medical marijuana, Jill Montag, a Health
Department spokeswoman, said in an email.

Hospitals that want to permit self-administration of medical marijuana or
other medications "must develop and follow policies and procedures to
ensure the safe self-administration and security of the medication,"
according to the Health Department's proposed amendment to the state's
Medical Marijuana Program.

The regulation, published in the New York State Register on Dec. 21, is
subject to a 45-day public-comment period.

No change is planned for the prohibition on vaporization in public areas
in hospitals, except for vaporization by patients in separate enclosed
rooms. And hospitals cannot dispense medical cannabis. Only five
state-approved companies can do that.

Bon Secours Charity Health Systems, which operates Bon Secours Community
Hospital in Port Jervis, St. Anthony Hospital in Warwick, and Good
Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, will consider formulating rules after the
state adopts the regulation following a public comment period, said
spokeswoman Helene Guss.

She noted that "our pain physicians say it has wide physician support."

It was unclear whether Bon Secours allows patients to bring any
medications from home. Guss would only say on Tuesday that it isn't
encouraged by the hospitals.

Rob Lee, spokesman for Orange Regional and Catskill Regional medical
centers, did not respond Tuesday to an email and phone message.

The hospitals have provided cryptic responses when asked about the state's
medical marijuana program, which has drawn registrations from only a small
fraction of the state's physicians.

Lee previously said in an email that, "Medical marijuana is a very complex
and emotional issue," and while hospitals can't dispense the drug, "we
strive to deliver exceptional and compassionate care."

Jennifer Livesey, of Middletown, postponed tests for her daughter, Carson,
16, at ORMC this month because she wouldn't be allowed to bring her
medical marijuana to the hospital. She said in an email that medical
marijuana was an "emerging medical" issue, not an emotional one.

And it seemed to her that the state gave the issue too little thought
before rolling out the program.

"The state wants to allow patients to bring their own medication to the
hospitals, but neglected to add that to the original regulations," she
said. "My response is hire someone who understands medical marijuana, so
you stop overlooking such important measures as using it in hospitals and

The proposed change is part of a series of tweaks by the Health Department
since dispensing of the drug began on Jan. 7, 2016. On Dec. 1, it decided
to include chronic pain as an allowable reason for the use of medical

It has also decided to permit nurse practitioners to certify patients for
medical marijuana therapies. They and physicians cannot prescribe
marijuana because of its federal classification as a dangerous and illegal
drug. They can only refer patients to the dispensaries. There were 790
medical professionals registered to participate in the state program, and
11,596 patients certified to use the drug as of Dec. 19, the most recent
available figures.

The Health Department is also seeking proposals from the five licensed
companies for selling and distributing approved medical marijuana products
to each other. The aim is to make more varieties of products available
across the state, while also safeguarding against a crop failure at one
company or another.
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