Making Medical Cannabis Easy in New York

As New York’s medical marijuana program continues to add qualifying conditions, more folks throughout the Empire State are looking to get their New York medical marijuana cards. For those in the five boroughs and beyond, getting a medical marijuana recommendation requires a doctor’s consultation, which means one more appointment to make, then wait for, and finally get to on time (assuming their train is running that day).

To save time, patients from Buffalo to Brooklyn are increasingly turning to telemedicine services like PrestoDoctor, which starts serving patients in New York state this week. These remote visits turn a doctor’s office visit into a convenient online meeting that can be conducted from the comfort of home.

New York’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana is evolving continually. But many of the qualifying conditions, including cancer and nerve damage, share a common symptom—pain, which is often treated with medications such as opioids. For some of the physicians working with PrestoDoctor, that treatment regimen piqued their interest in medical cannabis in the first place because they were seeking alternatives that better serve their patients.

Dr. David Nguyen greets a patient at a telemedicine appointment. (Courtesy of PrestoDoctor)

“I was working in pain management, which meant sending many of my patients home with opioid prescriptions. I started to feel like there had to be a better answer out there,” says Dr. David Nguyen, a California anesthesiologist who has been working with PrestoDoctor since 2015. “They don’t teach you about cannabis in med school, so I started doing my own research, and pretty soon I was sold on the potential of medical marijuana.”

Dr. Nguyen is hardly alone. Throughout the state of New York, more than 1,300 doctors are now registered to recommend medical cannabis. In an area with nearly 20 million people, though, that means patients with qualifying conditions may be put off by long waits for an appointment with a doctor who is qualified to make a recommendation for medical marijuana.