On January 8, state Assembly Republicans unveiled their draft bill permitting registered patients to access medical cannabis.
Under the legislation, all prescribers who have a bona-fide relationship with a patient would be able to certify if a patient has a qualifying condition (prescribers are not mandated to make certifications if they choose not to for whatever reason). Qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV or AIDS, seizures and epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, severe chronic pain (narrowly defined in the legislation), severe chronic nausea, severe muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, chronic motor or vocal tic disorder, Tourette syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and any terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of less than one year.
After receiving a certification, the patient would register with the newly created Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation (OMCR) within the Department of Health Services (DHS). The OMCR would issue patients and caregivers (up to 3 chosen by each patient) “registry identification cards”. These cards would allow the patient or caregiver to go to one of the five state government-operated medical cannabis dispensaries where a licensed pharmacist will consult on dosage and dispense medical cannabis to a patient or caregiver. The bill allows medical cannabis concentrates, oils, tinctures, edibles, pills, topical forms, gels, creams, vapors, patches, liquids, or forms administered by a nebulizer. The bill does not allow smokeable cannabis. All forms of cannabis would need to be dispensed in child/tamper proof containers.
As of the writing of this newsletter, this bill has not yet been introduced. However, it is likely that the full Assembly – and possibly the full Senate – will vote on this bill before the end of the 2023-2024 legislative session.