On Wednesday, November 11, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo approved two bills to expedite the distribution of “emergency medical marijuana.” It is the 23rd state to pass the Compassionate Care Act, which allows people with severe medical conditions access to cannabis for treatment. The bills signed by Cuomo, who approved the comprehensive medical marijuana program in New York State in July 2014, enable those with a more urgent need for cannabis treatment — as determined by the Department of Health — to receive it sooner.
“There is no doubt in my mind that medical marijuana can help people. It’s been proven in other states,” Cuomo stated during a recent press conference. “There is a whole history of information and data and research.”
Cuomo added, “We are here to help people, and if there is a medical advancement, then we want to make sure that we’re bringing it to New Yorkers.”
Locally, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus praised Cuomo for his decision, saying, “Many Orange County residents, both young and old, are suffering from various diseases and could benefit from medical marijuana treatment.”
The legalization of medical marijuana has garnered immense support in New York State, according to polling records. The Act will go through an 18-month implementation process, at which point medical marijuana will be available in a non-smokeable form to thousands of New Yorkers with emergency needs. Qualified patients must be a resident of, or treated in, New York State; must have a “serious condition” as determined by the bill; and must be certified by a New York State physician who has registered with the Department of Health.
“I have met with families whose children are suffering, and they are desperate to access this pain relieving tool,” said Neuhaus. The Executive also praised Senator Bill Larkin for his leadership in the implementation of the Compassionate Care Act.
The New York policy also includes criminal penalties for anyone who takes advantage of the system, as well as a stipulation in which the Governor will be able to suspend the program at any time if the State Police Superintendent or the Commissioner of Health believes there is a risk to public safety and health. Conditions that will be treated with cannabis are clearly defined in the legislation.
According to Senate Co-Leader Jeffrey Klein, the program will be “one of the safest, most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs in the country.”
In regard to the almost five-month delay of the signing of the Compassionate Care Act in New York, the Governor cited the need make sure there was a fail-proof system in place to deter any possibility of recreational use of the drug.
“Let’s sign this bill,” said Cuomo, “and let’s get help to the people who need it.”
For a timetable, stipulations of the bills, and details about what constitutes a qualified recipient — as well as prescribing doctor — visit www.compassionatecareny.org/medical-marijuana.