Like most towns in New York, Buffalo has its fair share of individuals who need access to quality treatment for chronic and life-threatening illnesses. These illnesses are often so debilitating that individuals who suffer are left unable to work, and in many cases, their quality of life suffers tremendously. Thanks in part to the dedicated professionals who work each day tirelessly to help make life just a little bit easier, the residents of Buffalo can rest assured that the latest advancements in medicine are now just a doctor’s visit away.
After the Compassionate Care Act (CCA) was passed in 2014, numerous providers have been certified by the state to prescribe medical marijuana. These providers can either be physicians, physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners.
What is cannabis?
Cannabis is a derivative of the cannabis plant, cannabis sativa that grows wild in many areas around the world. Highly sought after for its psychoactive properties, cannabis has been classified as a Schedule 1 Class of Drugs by the FDA for many years. Recently, due to certain medicinal benefits of products made using cannabis, individuals, as well as some medical providers, have sought to have it legalized.
There are three main forms used in cannabis consumption; marijuana, hashish, and hash oil. Marijuana is made from the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is considered to be one of the least potent of all the cannabis products and is typically smoked or made into edible products such as brownies and other desserts. Hashish, made from the resin (secreted gum) of the plant, is dried and pressed into small blocks and smoked or added to food and eaten like marijuana. The most potent cannabis product is hash oil. It is a thick oil made from the hashish that can be smoked.
The main active ingredient in cannabis is THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol). It is the compound that gives users the “high” associated with cannabis. Depending on the product used, the potency of THC can vary. Another compound that is often used to combat the “high” received from THC is CBD (Cannabidiol). Although products that only contain CBD are often desired for its anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties, many users and providers may prefer to use products that contain both THC and CBD.
How to get a medical marijuana card in Buffalo?
Under the CCA, anyone who wishes to obtain a medical marijuana (MMJ) card must complete a certification process and be registered with the state’s Department of Health. Interested patients living in the Buffalo area can set up an appointment with a local provider to discuss your eligibility. Since not all providers have the ability to prescribe marijuana for medicinal purposes, it is essential to verify participation with the state’s website, Department of Health.
Once patients have scheduled a consultation with a qualified provider, be sure to obtain your medical records including any diagnostic testing such as MRIs, X-rays or clinical reports to support your diagnosis from your previous medical providers. While many providers may feel the need to first prescribe opioids or other pain relief medications before turning to marijuana as a treatment, others realize that those methods have already failed. But just in case, make sure you can adequately articulate any past experiences and how those treatments may or may not have worked for you. Your medical records will go a long way in showing the ineffectiveness of other products.
Once the provider has determined that you meet the state’s requirements, they will certify that you have a condition that is covered under the Act. The next step to obtaining that all important card is to register with the Department of Health. Some providers will complete this step for you and will add the $50 application cost to the amount you are charged for your consultation. You will need to provide proof of residency and identity during this process so make sure you take it with you. Your passport, driver’s license or state-issued ID are just a few examples you can use.
Finally, after you have been registered and approved by the state, your medical marijuana card will be sent to you. To purchase cannabis products, patients must have this card with them. Only patients that are over the age of 18 can obtain a medical marijuana card on their own. Individuals younger must have their parent or legal guardian apply as an authorized caregiver to use medical marijuana legally.
The Compassionate Care Act initially approved a small number of life-threatening or chronic conditions to use medical marijuana. Since that time additions have been made when needed as such was the case in July 2018. The state determined that to aid in combatting the rising opioid crisis; there should be a suitable alternative to such powerful medications. The current list is as follows:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal Cord injury with Spasticity
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Chronic pain
- Any condition that could be prescribed an opioid to treat
The above-listed conditions must also be accompanied by one or more of the following associated or complicating conditions:
- Cachexia (wasting disease)
- Severe or chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
- Opioid Use Disorder
If you live in the Buffalo area and have been diagnosed with one or more of the approved conditions and are considering cannabis therapy, there are several highly qualified practitioners to guide you along your journey. Although this process can feel burdensome, you are not alone. Many of the Buffalo providers are willing to help you navigate the complex system.