New York is gradually catching up to other states in rethinking its marijuana policies.
In a shockingly reasonable development, the New York State Department of Health announced Thursday that chronic pain will soon join its short list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. This means far more New Yorkers will have access to this increasingly accepted form of treatment.
"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 in a statement from the NYSDOH. "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."
The current list of 10 qualifying conditions includes the likes of cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Huntington's disease. While medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2014 with the passing of the Compassionate Care Act, New York has been among the strictest jurisdictions in terms of granting access. In a state of almost 20 million people, only about 10,000 are currently certified by their doctors to use marijuana for treatment -- which, incidentally, is roughly the same number of people presently standing on line at Shake Shack.