In a major development for New York, its Department of Health officially approved a regulation, first proposed in December, to allow people with “any severe debilitating pain that the practitioner determines degrades health and functional capability” that has lasted or is expected to last at least three months to access legal medical marijuana. The state separately also approved allowing physician’s assistants to prescribe medical cannabis under certain conditions.

New York State started with one of the smallest lists of ailments that can be treated with medical cannabis, taking a very limited approach at first. So this is a very positive step, though observers are hoping things like PTSD also would be added, as New Jersey recently did. New York also looked at Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, and rheumatoid arthritis but has not decided to add them yet.

One of the few maladies that has actually been researched, chronic pain has been shown to be meaningfully aided by cannabis and a much safer option than opioids, which are often addictive. Now what we need: more research! A lot is going on in Canada, Israel and other places, but hopefully the DEA will continue to ease restrictions on research here in the US.