Chronic pain to be added as qualifier for medical marijuana

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, marijuana grows at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Thursday, state health officials announced that chronic pain will be added as a qualifying condition for people to get medical marijuana.

“After conducting a thorough review of the scientific literature, it became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain,” Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker said. “Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York State, and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program.”

A proposed regulatory amendment will be developed by the New York State Department of Health and will specify what kinds of chronic pain conditions will qualify patients for marijuana.

Currently, the other conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana in the state are listed here:

  • 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
  • Huntington’s disease

Dr. Laszlo Mechtler is the director of the Dent Cannabis Clinic in Amherst. He told News 4 this change has the potential to provide a safer alternative to opiates.

“Medical marijuana has been shown to decrease the over-utilization of opiates. Interesting study out of Michigan, shows the individual states that have approved medical marijuana there’s been a 25 percent decrease in the death rate of patients from overdosing on opiates,” he said.

MORE | Learn more about clinics’ optimistic outlook on the expansion of New York’s medical marijuana program here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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