Medical Marijuana: Your Questions Answered!

by Annette Pinder

Medical marijuana has been used for more than 3,000 years to treat and manage pain, digestive issues, and psychological disorders. It is legal in 26 states and the District of Columbia. In Buffalo, DENT Neurologic Institute’s Cannabis Clinic is one of the largest and most comprehensive centers in New York State where patients can obtain certification for medical marijuana. All physicians are board certified neurologists and registered by the New York State Medical Marijuana Program. Currently DENT has 27 medical providers certified by NYS to certify and treat patients with a multitude of neurologic disorders.

Laszlo L. Mechtler, MD, the clinic’s medical director answers some of his patients’ most frequently asked questions regarding the use of medical marijuana.

Is medical marijuana legal? There is often some confusion for patients as it is still federally illegal, however, medical marijuana is legal in New York, and 26 other states, including the District of Columbia.

What conditions qualify for medical marijuana treatment? Qualifying conditions are cancer, HIV, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. While migraines are not a qualifying condition, they could fall under chronic pain, depending on their severity. It should be noted that along with a qualifying indication, the patient must have one of the following associated or complicating condition(s): cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, and/or PTSD.

Has medical marijuana decreased prescription opioid problems? According to the website, a NIDA-funded analysis showed that legally protected medical marijuana dispensaries and legalization of medical marijuana was associated with a decrease in opioid prescriptions and opioid misuse. There are statistics that show that in states where medical marijuana is legal, there has been a 25% decrease in opioid related deaths.

What is the first step to obtaining medical marijuana? Talk to your practitioner about whether medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment for your condition. To certify for the drug, he or she must be registered with the NYS Dept. of Health Medical Marijuana Program. A list of registered practitioners is available by searching “medical marijuana” at

How is medical marijuana administered? A registered physician determines the appropriate dosage and frequency of the drug, which is available in capsules, tinctures and vaporizers. Your recommended dose will be tailored to your specific symptoms and medical disorder. Smoking and edibles are not part of the NYS program.

How and where can I purchase medical marijuana? Certified patients or their designated caregivers registered with the medical marijuana program can purchase the drug from a NYS registered dispensing facility. Patients must bring their registry ID cards and certifications, and designated caregivers obtaining medical marijuana on behalf of their patients must show their caregiver registry ID cards and their patients’ certifications.

What takes place at an appointment at the DENT Cannabis Clinic? Your first appointment will involve a review of your clinical history, diagnostic studies, and lab results. You will receive a neurological examination and recommendations for treatment that may involve a new medication, changing your existing medication, and/or a recommendation for medical marijuana. If medical marijuana is recommended, a follow up appointment will be scheduled to continue to monitor your condition and treatment with medical marijuana.

Can I obtain an appointment immediately? The team at the DENT Cannabis clinic will make every effort to get patients an appointment as quickly as possible.

To make an appointment at the DENT Cannabis clinic call 716-250-6000. Learn more at, where you can also download a referral form. Learn more about medical marijuana at