Sen. Diane Savino on Thursday introduced a new package of measures that would expand access to state’s medical marijuana program and make it easier for doctors and other medical professionals to treat an expanded roster of patients.

New York’s medical marijuana program started at the beginning of this year, and the tightly regulated program has only a handful of serious illnesses for patients that qualify for a cannabis-based prescription.

“I made history by passing the first medical marijuana program in New York – and have been proud to lead on this issue as we implement the program throughout the state,” Savino said in a statement.

“However, it is not enough to make this medicine theoretically available, it must also be pragmatically accessible. Now is the time to take this program further – and that’s exactly what this package will do. With my new legislation, we will be able to help patients in need become certified more easily, ensure that more of those suffering are eligible to become certified, allow each doctor to treat their patients as they see fit, and make this necessary medicine accessible to more people throughout the state.”

Savino, a Staten Island lawmaker, wants to double the number of dispensaries allowed under the current law in New York. The current program allows for each of the five licensed medical marijuana companies to have four dispensaries, but that has left some areas in the state without access to a nearby facility to access the prescription.

At the same time, the bill would allow for direct marketing and education campaigns from companies that grow and manufacture medical-grade cannabis to a doctor. Companies would be able to approach doctors directly in order to provide information on medical marijuana and encourage them to become trained and licensed in the state’s program.

Meanwhile, another measure would increase the number of illnesses that would be applicable to a medical marijuana prescription: PTSD, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, wasting syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Savino also wants to have the Department of Health add nurses and physician assistants to the list of those who are qualified to certify patients for medical marijuana use, a bill that’s aimed at expanding access and the available providers. Savino notes these medical professional are already able to prescribe other controlled substances under the law, but the medical marijuana program only allows doctors to certify patients.

Finally, Savino wants to form a 15-member advisory panel that would be charged with assisting in the program’s regulatory development by the DOH — a nod to what has been a complex implementation process for the medical marijuana program.