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New York Officially Becomes 23rd Medical Marijuana State


New York marijuanaToday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a medical marijuana bill into law, making New York the twenty-third state to allow legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. Patients, caregivers and healthcare providers are attending the bill signing ceremony at The New York Academy of Medicine, along with the bill sponsors, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino.

After years of advocacy and intense last minute negotiations between lawmakers, the bill passed on the final day of the legislative session with extraordinarily strong bipartisan support. New York is the second largest state in the nation with a medical marijuana law.

“Thanks to the bill sponsors and the Governor’s actions today, New York has joined twenty-two other states in creating safe and legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients,” said Holly Anderson Executive Director of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. “Patients in New York have been fighting for this for eighteen years, and they have waited long enough. I urge the Governor to do everything within his power to insure that patients in New York can access medical marijuana as soon as possible.”

The final bill was not as comprehensive as patients had hoped but, if implemented swiftly and effectively, it will nevertheless provide relief for thousands of New York patients suffering from serious and debilitating conditions by allowing the use of medical marijuana under the supervision of their physician. The conditions covered under the law include cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord injuries, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease. The bill gives the Governor broad control of the program, including the ability to add conditions.

“Having the Governor sign this bill into law today gives me and my family hope that we may finally have access to medicine to treat my son Oliver’s seizures,” said Missy Miller of Atlantic Beach, whose son Oliver suffers from dozens of life-threatening seizures each week. “I’m heartened that the Governor understands the medicinal benefits of medical cannabis. My son and so many others need this medicine right away.  I implore Governor Cuomo and the Commissioner of Health to work diligently to make sure that New Yorkers who are suffering and may die without this medicine, get it as soon as possible.  The eighteen month timeline for implementation suggested in the bill is simply too long for Oliver.”

Earlier versions of the bill included provisions creating expedited access for patients, including children with severe seizure disorders, who were in life-threatening situations or who had terminal illnesses. Under the law being signed today, the Governor has the authority to implement the program more quickly than the 18 month timeline suggested.

“New York has finally passed a law that provides hope to so many of its residents” saidKate Hintz of North Salem whose daughter Morgan has a life-threatening seizure disorder. “That’s good news.  I am saddened, however, that this law suggests an implementation stage that could take up to 18 months.  It is unfair that we are again asked to wait, while patients in other States access systems and medicines as we speak.”

The law gives the Governor’s administration the authority to determine and restrict the forms of medical marijuana, and while it explicitly prohibits smoking, vaporization could be allowed, along with oils, extracts, pills, and edibles.

“I am delighted that Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law,” saidBeverly McClain of New York City, a stage four cancer patient. “Now the real work begins. We want to see the Commissioner allow us access to the whole plant, which we know has beneficial effects.  And those of us who have been suffering for years need his office to move quickly and establish a workable, robust program so we can access the medicine we need as soon as possible.”

“As an oncology nurse and someone who has spent years learning about medical cannabis, I am delighted that New York has finally become one of the states where medical marijuana is legal,” said Eileen Konieczny, RN, of New Paltz. “I hope the Governor will move as quickly as possible to get New York’s medical marijuana program up and running and that they will work to make sure that patients have access to the wide array of medical marijuana products, including the whole plant, which we know is effective in treating different serious conditions and symptoms. Many patients, especially those at the end of life, cannot wait eighteen months for relief.  We need to start working on a system of expedited access for those patients now.”

Advocates celebrating the victory are committed to continuing their work to ensure that the program is implemented effectively and quickly. They are hopeful that the Governor will establish an advisory committee of experts, providers, and patients advocates to inform the implementation process and to learn from the experiences of other states with medical marijuana programs.

“I’d like to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law,” said Susan Rusinko of Auburn who is living with MS. “Having advocated for the passage of this bill for more than two years, I know New York can learn a lot from the states that have gone before us. I urge the Governor to work with patients and experts and move quickly to establish New York’s program. The suffering has gone on too long.”

“This is an important day for cancer patients and their families,” said Geri Barish of Long Island, a cancer survivor and Mother of a child who passed away from cancer. “Watching our children and loved ones suffer is unbearable. Now that this legislation is signed into law, we must make sure implementation happens quickly and effectively so that  patients get the relief they need.”

“Without question, this is a good day for patients in New York who have fought for nearly 20 years for relief,” said gabriel sayegh, New York State director for the Drug Policy Alliance, the anchor organization for Compassionate Care New York. “Under this law, patients will benefit if the program is implemented effectively. We urge the Governor to move swiftly on implementation and to establish an emergency access provision for those patients with very serious or terminal conditions who have no time to spare.  The bill signing today is a tribute to all the patients, caregivers, families and healthcare providers who worked so hard to make today a reality – it’s a good example of what can be accomplished when regular people work together for what’s right.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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  2. Uncle Arthur on

    It’s one of those “We’re not California” ultra-restrictive medical marijuana laws that seems to be in vogue these days.

  3. Doc Deadhead on

    just another “let’s pass this crap bill so the people will have to fight a lot harder to put it on a ballot”.

    “while it explicitly prohibits smoking”, this comes when spineless politicians agree to something just to get rid of the issue.

    agreed that this makes one more state closer to rescheduling. But what about the stories of the children suffering and having to wait 18 months? Who writes a bill that can help so many and then say the Governor can take up to 1 1/2 years to give it the green light? Spineless politicians just go with the flow and don’t piss anyone off cause it’s an election year. They are not there for the people, they are just there for themselves and this sort of bill shows it.

    The spineless succumb to the haters.

  4. Another phony law in practice. But at least it counts as another state recognizing the medical benefits and may document some corruption for the history books.

  5. Michael. One thing is certain – cannabis will not hurt you. Since everyone is different, it’s uncertain as to whether or not it can replace your current medications, but in my opinion you will probably not need to take as many meds as you are now. Try it. Worst case scenario..you will just plain feel better for a while.

  6. Yes and they know that people taking opiates and barbiturates are going to be numbed-out and easy to manage and that they will be good little consumers.

  7. Yeah and the DEA will STILL be reviewing the scheduling of cannabis when your grandkids are in the old folks homes.

  8. I’m not a doctor but i have read where people are using pot for MS and seizures as well as for pain. There are many people in the US that spend tons of money on less effective legal drugs when a simple plant that can be grown has so many beneficial purposes and uses. I know that the Big Drug companies are against pot because it would eat up a lot of the money that they would be receiving for their Legal drugs that have all of the side effects and put a strain on the liver.

  9. Michael Marion on

    The stress that was put on me from getting hit by a snowplow i had a sezure my dilantin levels are way out wack in what they have been in 25yrs i was wondering if weed could take the place of the meds i’am taking 300mils daily

  10. It would be interesting to see how many electoral college votes medical marijuana now has? Do we have a majority yet, or do we still need Florida? This is relevant because the DEA is again reviewing the scheduling of cannabis.

  11. It seems to difficult for most politicians to take even these baby steps toward a rational cannabis policy, yet they don’t blink an eye when opiates and barbiturates are prescribed by the hundreds of thousands every day.

  12. This is a great day for New York and this nation. It’s sad that the government can pass laws that take affect immediately that New Yorkers wait 18 months for. I suggest New Yorkrs let there govener know by phone ,email that they want it started sooner than later. Good luck New York. Legalize it America

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