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New York Governor’s Medical Marijuana Plan Falls Short


New York medical marijuana governor cuomoPatients and Advocates Disappointed that Cuomo Doesn’t Call for Comprehensive Legislation to Effectively Help Patients Get Medicine

Drug Policy Alliance: Governor Needs to Push Senate to Get Bill to His Desk

NEW YORK: After making national headlines for his support of medical marijuana, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State only briefly mentioned his medical marijuana plan.  Cuomo administration officials said that the program would involve distributing medical marijuana through 20 hospitals statewide, and the Department of Health would be charged with promulgating regulations.

Cuomo initially said he would share details about the plan during his state of the state address, but instead provided only limited comment. The Governor’s policy briefing book, published during his speech, outlines what amounts to a medical marijuana research program, not the comprehensive system that patients need. Critical questions remain as yet unanswered- such as, which patients would be eligible, or where the marijuana for the program would come from. Administration officials have suggested they would obtain marijuana from the federal government or from supplies seized by law enforcement, but those options, while specifically outlined in the 1980 Olivieri law, are both unlikely and pose significant safety risks to patients. Additionally, public and private hospitals may be resistant to participating in a state program that instructs them to violate federal law.

Patients and advocates were disappointed that the Governor did not make a commitment to support the comprehensive legislation that has passed the Assembly four times and would truly offer patients the medicine they need.

“As someone living with stage 4 breast cancer I’m disappointed that I did not hear more from Governor Cuomo detailing his medical marijuana initiative. My hope is he’s hearing the voices of all us patient advocates across state making clear we need a comprehensive solution that provides medical marijuana access for folks like me who are suffering now,” said Beverly McClain of New York City. “I look forward to seeing the Governor work with the Senate to pass a compassionate care Act as soon as possible.”

“I am disappointed with the Governor’s announcement today, and more so, I am frustrated that he still does not acknowledge the serious, debilitating conditions our children suffer from every day,” said Kate Hintz of the Hudson Valley, whose daughter Morgan suffers from a severe seizure disorder.  “We know that medical marijuana could greatly improve the quality of Morgan’s life, and so many other New Yorkers.  Announcing a ‘pilot program’ with little to no detail is hardly the answer- it barely even addresses the issue.  Every day he waits means another day of seizures for my daughter.”

“Critically and chronically ill New Yorkers need a more comprehensive bill, namely the Compassionate Care Act, to be passed in the Senate during this 2014 legislative session,” said Nancy Rivera, a four-time cancer survivor from Troy, NY.  “We must not and should not have to wait for a system to be put in place in our state, and we shouldn’t have to settle for a limited program which is over 30 years old. New Yorkers cannot wait any longer for the Compassionate Care Act to be passed.”

“I was pleased Governor Cuomo mentioned his decision to support medical marijuana, but  I was much more discontented to hear that he does not acknowledge that times have changed. The 1980 Olivieri legislation cannot in 2014 provide  the compassionate care required for the lives of people living with full blown AIDS, young children suffering from epileptic seizure syndromes, people fighting cancer and those suffering the pains of MS,” said James W Lister of New York City, HIV-positive since 1976, living with full-blown AIDS since 1996.

“I’m glad the governor supports medical marijuana, but I am concerned that this limited program will not help my son Oliver. I urge him to work with the Senate to pass a comprehensive piece of legislation that will include everybody,” said Missy Miller of Long Island whose son Oliver suffers from severe seizure disorders.

“Though we are deeply appreciative of the Governor’s move to support medical cannabis, reviving the 1980 Olivieri law is unlikely to be sufficient to address the issues patients face in 2014 – and thus the legislature still needs to act,” said Holly Anderson, director of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester.  “It is incomprehensible that New Yorkers continue to suffer while residents in neighboring states can gain much-needed relief. This is not acceptable. As the Governor indicated in his address today, ‘This is a new year and a new beginning,’ therefore we need a new law… one that will allow all patients safe and legal access to medicinal marijuana across this great state.  We’re going to double our efforts to get the Senate to finally pass the Compassionate Care Act so we can deliver it to the Governor for his signature.”

“Although I am pleased the governor is moving in the right direction for medical marijuana, it is not enough for me as a patient who suffers daily with multiple sclerosis,” said Susan Rusinko, a mother from Auburn, NY. “I as well as New York needs comprehensive legislation. We need the Senate to pass Compassionate Care Act and the Governor should sign it.”

“We applaud the governor for his support of medical marijuana, and restarting a 1980 program is a fine step, but the science has advanced a lot in the last 34 years. It makes sense to move forward with a more comprehensive system consistent with today’s scientific evidence,” said Sunil Aggarwal MD, Ph.D, Vice Chair of New York Physicians for Compassionate Care.

“What’s good is that Governor Cuomo has joined the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers and Americans who support of medical marijuana. Unfortunately, the Governor didn’t acknowledge the need for legislative reform, and his proposal is a limited interim step at best,” said gabriel sayegh, State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “What we need in New York is a comprehensive solution to allow patients with serious and debilitating conditions to access the specific types of marijuana they need, under the supervision of their healthcare provider. Patients and their families need the Governor to join us in calling on the Senate to finally pass the Compassionate Care Act so patients can have the relief they need and deserve.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. This should be a key issue, why the hell we let retarded politicians be involved in something as important as healthcare is beyond me. Think about that for a second, we let morons who only care about money control the system that takes care of our wellbeing, that’s just insane!

  2. Andrew Zebrun III on

    Please make cannabis widely available. My dad, Andrew Zebrun Jr. served in WWII becoming gravely injured. I watched him suffer, and die of his wounds. A simple plant grown much like a tomato could’ve helped him. Please give our heroic veterans, and all suffering patients a healthy gift, cannabis, can, cure…

  3. Republicans have blocked a vote repeatedly on medical marijuana- and they have blocked a vote on SB 2947 requiring education in pain care. As Senator Bonacic’s staff told me they wanted to do what the MSSNY wanted(and obviously they didnt want to help NewYorkers in pain). This is not to say Cuomo is a friend to people in pain- he and Commissioner Shah are no friend to NewYorkers in pain- Cuomo blocked a vote on Assemblywoman Rosenthals bill to required education in pain care. Its heartless Republicand like Skelos, Bonacic, Libous and and a heartless Governor that stand in the way of improving pain care in NYS.

  4. New York is close enough to Maryland that he should know better. They tried to sell a meaningless medical cannabis research program there, too. And sure enough, cannabis advocates were ready to put Maryland into the “win” column before they actually read what the so-called medical cannabis program would actually do. It allowed for hospitals to participate in a research program like the one Cuomo described. The problem was that no Maryland hospitals would participate in the program, so the legislation they passed, essentially, did nothing at all.

    Cuomo is the type of politician who likes to hedge bets based on how much political gain he can make without the slightest bit of concern for the welfare of real-life constituents. Comprehensive medical cannabis has been on the verge of passing the NY legislature for a couple of years, now. That’s why Cuomo thought he could swoop in and be the big hero. He underestimates the medical cannabis movement — these are real people with real issues who will examine every last word he issues on this subject, scrutinizing every detail. Cuomo, obviously, did not think they would.

    Perhaps it’s time to stop painting all cannabis advocates with the brush of the lazy, illiterate stoner. The parents of children who suffer from Dravet syndrome do not fit that description. Not by a longshot.

    Sorry, Andrew. You’re not going to make a successful run for the White House like this. Not in the information age. Stop pretending you’re the smartest guy in the room for five minutes and do something that will help people.

  5. The governor needs to pass medical marijuana for everyone to make a choice in the type of medication of chioce between dr and patient and not the state of ny york and compassion for people are in desperate need

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