By Tessa Berenson
December 2, 2016

New York is expanding its medical marijuana legislation, adding chronic pain to the list of qualifying medical conditions to allow people to obtain the drug.

“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,” said New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Thursday. “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 state’s Department of Health said in a statement that it will draft a proposed regulatory amendment outlining the eligible chronic pain conditions and publish the amendment for public comment “shortly.”

Starting in 2014, New York doctors could prescribe medical marijuana in non-smokable forms to people with one of ten serious medical conditions, including HIV or AIDS, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, some of the most stringent medical marijuana restrictions in the nation. Now, adding chronic pain to the list of acceptable maladies could make thousands more people eligible for the drug.

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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