January 6, 2014
New York Governor Wants To Open The State To Medical Marijuana
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
According to a recent New York Times report, New York governor Andrew Cuomo is planning to announce looser restrictions on the use of medical marijuana in the Empire State. During Wednesday’s State of the State address, Cuomo is expected to announce an upcoming executive action that would permit the limited use of marijuana by those with serious illnesses, according to the Times’ official state sources.
The executive order would revolve around a 1980 law that allows research into marijuana therapy for “patients who are involved in a life-threatening or sense-threatening situation.”
According to the report, the governor will open up 20 hospitals to become medical marijuana dispensaries. The hospitals would have to apply to the state Health Department for permission. Unlike California’s more lax regulations, the New York laws are expected to make the drug available only for terminal cases and serious conditions such as multiple sclerosis, severe pediatric illness, and cancer.
Cynics pointed out that Cuomo is up for reelection this year and a recent major poll of New York State residents found that 82 percent approved the legalization of medical marijuana.
Cuomo’s announcement would be in line with the politics of the State Assembly, which passed the latest of four medical marijuana bills in 2013. However, each of these bills has stalled in the State Senate.
Richard N. Gottfried, a Democrat on the assembly’s health committee, has conducted two public hearings on medical marijuana in recent weeks. He said the state’s reluctance to embrace a somewhat progressive issue was surprising.
“New York is progressive on a great many issues, but not everything,” he said. The assemblyman has called for “a tightly regulated and licensed market” similar to the one expected to be proposed by Cuomo. “What we are looking at bears no resemblance to the California system,” he said.
The Times also noted some skepticism among patients who might benefit from medical marijuana, particularly those who don’t fall within the scope of the proposed guidelines.
Nancy Rivera, a 60-year-old cancer survivor, said the new program might still be too restrictive.
“I think it’s, kind of, more than anything for terminally ill patients, and that’s wonderful,” Rivera said. “But then there’s people like me. Are we dying right now? No. But we could certainly use the healing properties.”
Susan Rusinko, 52, told the Times that she hoped to acquire medical marijuana to alleviate the side effects of drugs she takes to treat her multiple sclerosis. She said without marijuana, the MS medication causes her to have bladder-control issues.
“So do you take a pill and wet your pants all the time, or do you not take a pill and suffer?” Rusinko said. She added that illegally obtained marijuana has helped her to perform daily chores.
Missy Miller said she would like to try using medical marijuana to treat her son, Oliver, 14, who suffers from seizures. Proponents of medical marijuana point to a certain strain of the plant that seems to reduce the frequency of pediatric seizures.
“As a parent I have poured poison into my son that’s FDA approved,” Miller said. “That’s what I’ve been doing for 14 years and nothing has helped. Here’s the promise of a medication that’s stopping these seizures. It’s working and there are no side effects.”