Medical Marijuana in New York: The First Upper East Side Doctor to Prescribe Medical Marijuana Overcomes Misconceptions & Helps Ailing Patients

New York physician Dr. Thomas O’Brien secured certification for his first patient to be prescribed medical marijuana, just after the program launched and the first eight dispensaries in the state opened on January 7. Dr. O’Brien has since assisted over 200 patients achieve certification for medical marijuana in New York in the last 90 days with positive results and feedback from individuals suffering from brain cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease, HIV, ALS and neuropathies.Dr. O’Brien believes obtaining his physician certification as a medical marijuana doctor with the New York State Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program was the natural progression in his practice of medicine. O’Brien, who has been in practice for 18 years, is board certified in Integrated Medicine and holds a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition. He began his career as a family physician and treated patients for Acute Care and Continuous Care. In caring for more severely ill patients, his focus grew to Compassionate Care and Palliative Care. He is one of seven Manhattan doctors with M-MJP certification, with just 28 New York State doctors presently listed on the web site However, the New York State Department of Health web site notes that as of March 2, 445 physicians have registered and 1,399 patients have been certified for treatment, yet the department still lacks a comprehensive practitioner list to allow prospective patients to find care.


Currently, under New York State’s Medical Marijuana Law (S7923/A6357-E) specific requirements must be met and patients are potentially eligible for medical cannabis if they have been diagnosed with a specific severe, debilitating or life threatening condition accompanied by an associated or complicating condition. By law, those conditions are: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease. The associated or complicating conditions are cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms.


“My primary focus is to alleviate symptoms so my patients may perform daily functions relatively symptom free,” explains Dr. O’Brien. “For those patients who have exhausted traditional therapies and are at end of life, my focus is to make them comfortable so that they may have quality of life to spend with their families for whatever time remains.”


Placing a strong emphasis on education, Dr. O’Brien spends significant time with each patient so that they thoroughly understand the certification process, doses, and benefits. “Doc Tommy,” as he is known to his patients, creates an open, non-rushed environment where patients and family members can comfortably ask questions and discuss all concerns. “My mission is to educate our community on the benefits of medical marijuana,” the doctor explains. In consulting with his patients, O’Brien learned that a significant number of them had self-medicated with street marijuana, already realizing the benefits.


“The legalization of medical marijuana now takes procurement off the streets where the substance contains a much higher ratio of THC, resulting in unwanted psychoactive side effects. It can also be laced with other contaminants. Now I am able to offer seriously ill or end of life patients, a legal, safe, reliable alternative, cultivated in a controlled environment with no added chemicals,” explains O’Brien. The biggest challenge for the doctor has been creating awareness with New York City residents that his services are a viable and effective option to traditional therapies that have failed to provide relief for patients in the past. “The greatest misconception regarding medical marijuana is that people believe patients will walk the streets high,” he notes. Medical marijuana also removes the need to smoke the substance with calculated dosages available in vapor, sublingual and pill forms, depending upon the ailment.


In continuously monitoring patients beginning with their first follow up one month after commencing marijuana therapy, the doctor has seen promising results with many patients living more comfortably than they had in years. He is hopeful that New York State will expand the scope of diagnosis covered by the Compassionate Care Act so that more individuals can benefit from medical marijuana.


Dr. Thomas O’Brien’s office is located at 121 East 60th Street in Manhattan. As with all M-MJP certified practitioners, health insurance does not cover this area of care. Fees vary from physician to physician and Dr. O’Brien’s rates have been reduced to make care more accessible. As a former Captain and Commanding Officer in the New York Guard’s, 88th Brigade, 102 Forward Support Medical Detachment, Dr. O’Brien offers further reduced rates to those having served in any branch of the US Armed Forces.


For more information on obtaining patient medical marijuana certification and learning more about the benefits of treatment, individuals with eligible conditions may visit or call (212) 201-9122.

Drinking For a Cause: Kung Fu Saloon Raises a Glass to Support Dallas-Area Disaster Response

25% of Kung Fu Saloon’s December 29th drink sales will be donated directly to those affected by the recent Dallas-area tornadoes.


Kung Fu Saloon, Texans go-to spot for vintage arcade games and pickle shots, will donate 25% of their statewide December 29th drink sales directly to relief efforts of the recent Texas tornadoes. The Dallas location will also be holding a supply drive this week. Items can be dropped off at Kung Fu Saloon Dallas, located in Uptown at 2911 Routh St. Staff members will be personally delivering supplies and aid later this afternoon.


This is a part of the Texas-based company’s monthly ‘Drink 4 a Cause’ event, which began with their first location in Austin. They continued that spirit with their Dallas and Houston locations. Each month, the three locations partner with a local nonprofit for a specified evening, donating 15% of that day’s drink sales to their cause.


Through these monthly events, Kung Fu Saloon has donated over $30,000 this year alone to the American Red Cross in support of their Central Texas Flood relief efforts. Since the opening of their first Austin location in 2009, Kung Fu Saloon has donated over $250,000 to recipients like the West Texas Fire Department who received $25,500 in 2013 directly from one of these statewide Drink 4 a Cause benefits.


“We are hoping to do our part to help all of those affected in these recent storms,” said general manager of Kung Fu Saloon Dallas, Josh Heater. “Part of what makes Texas so great is the camaraderie. We wouldn’t be able to do anything like this without the support of our community.”


Additional beneficiaries have included Texas 4000, Habitat for Humanity, the Austin Sunshine Camps, Houston Rescue & Restore, the Human Rights Campaign, Austin Pets Alive, the Children’s Miracle Network, Houston’s Be a Resource for Kids, and the Dallas Cotillion Club to name a few. To nominate an organization for consideration please contact


Voted ‘Best Game Bar’, Kung Fu Saloon is Texas’s most unique watering hole with vintage arcade games, giant board games and a full bar to quench your thirst. Kung Fu Saloon has been bringing the kid in all of us to life since 2009 with the first location in Austin. Since then, they have expanded to Dallas and Houston with pickle shots, karaoke rooms and Kung Food. The Texas-based company is currently expanding further with their 4th location opening in the Austin Domain area in 2015 and a 5th location in Nashville.


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