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One Woman Feels Shut Out of Medical Marijuana Program

By Jason Weinstein.
Patricia Murphy has Relapsing-Remitting multiple sclerosis. There is no cure for the disease. But there are a myriad of drugs to treat the symptoms.

"Provigil, LDN (low-dose Naltrexone), Vitamin D. I have a nausea medication," said Murphy.

Including medical marijuana.

"It could probably replace at least four of these," said Murphy.

But despite MS being a disease designated by New York to be treated with medical marijuana, Murphy can't get any. Doctors need to register with the state to prescribe medical marijuana.

Only those doctors can then endorse patients, who must also register. But Murphy uses the Bassett Health System, which has no doctors registered with the state's medical marijuana program.

"Now I have to go outside the network and find a registered doctor which my medical insurance might not pay the cost for that," said Murphy.

Murphy says getting marijuana illegally is not an option for her. She also says the travel and cost of finding a doctor outside of her insurance network could be prohibitive.

"In most cases when a doctor writes a prescription you have to see them every three months to keep the prescription renewed. So that could be a financial burden," said Murphy.

The New York State Department of Health has not responded to a request to see where the registered doctors are practicing. According to the Oneonta Daily Star, in Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties only Margaretville Memorial Hospital has a doctor registered to prescribe medical marijuana.

A spokesperson for the Bassett Health system says a decision and process for this is under active review. Lourdes Hospital refused to comment on the issue. A UHS spokesman said UHS supports providers and patients working together to determine what is best for the patient, and leaves that decision with them. He said he did not know if any UHS-affiliated doctors are registered with the state to prescribe medical marijuana.

"I don't have many options left. At this stage if it helps me get over a bad day I'll try it. But I want to do it the legal way," said Murphy.

As of January 28th 306 physicians have registered for the NYS Medical Marijuana Program, and 465 patients have been certified by their doctors.