Medical marijuana has cleared some regulatory hurdles in New York State but by it is by no means cleared for all conditions and injuries.
Headway of Western New York, a group that provides support and education for those who've suffered traumatic brain injuries, hosted a symposium at the University at Buffalo to discuss the future of cannabis treatments.
The featured speaker, Dr. Laszlo Mechtler with the DENT Cannabis Clinic, discussed his work with patients who suffer from symptoms of brain injuries like concussions.
He says 80 percent of his patients have seen improvement in pain, sleep, memory and other emotional issues while using medical cannabis.
Mechtler also discussed the obstacles the drug still faces: While it's legal to treat some of the symptoms of head injuries, head injuries themselves like concussions are not a certifiable reason to prescribe medical cannabis in New York State.
The biggest obstacle at this point is price. Medical marijuana is not covered by insurers anywhere in the state.
"The only way they'll pay for it is if we do the research,” Mechtler said. “Right now we have multiple research projects at the DENT Cannabis Clinic looking at different disease states and eventually we'll publish that. Once that is published the public will embrace the science and things will change."
He said only six percent of medical schools even teach students about medical marijuana and that only one or two percent of his patients have been taken off medical marijuana due to negative side effects.