new york governor andrew cuomo cannabis
Medical Marijuana Policy

Bill To Create Emergency Access To Medical Marijuana Delivered To New York Governor’s Desk

new york governor andrew cuomo cannabisFriday, the New York State Assembly delivered to the Governor a bill to expedite access to medical marijuana for critically ill patients. In June, with overwhelming bipartisan support, both houses of the legislature passed A.7060 (Gottfried) / S.5086 (Griffo), directing the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible.

“The law that created New York’s medical marijuana program was passed in 2014 and is supposed to be up and running by January 2016. But there remains a real danger that many seriously ill patients will not be able to access medical marijuana, and their conditions will deteriorate, potentially jeopardizing their lives,” saidAssembly sponsor Richard N. Gottfried, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee. “Many of these patients are young children with severe forms of epilepsy who have been successfully treated with particular forms of medical marijuana in other states. I have been in discussions with the Cuomo administration about the bill for months and have answered every question raised by the Governor’s staff; I am not aware of any argument against the bill.”

The bill instructs the state to issue patient cards to qualified, critically ill patients as soon as possible, making it clear that they are medical marijuana patients and affording them protection from law enforcement and child protective services.

“We’ve been waiting an outrageous 15 months for expedited access to medical marijuana,” said Missy Miller of Atlantic Beach, whose son Oliver suffers from life-threatening seizures. “Every day we wait is a day I watch my son lose ground. We can’t afford any more delays. And delays seem likely considering I have not heard even one word about how to register my son for this program and many of the dispensaries are having difficulties securing their sites. Governor Cuomo should finally do the right thing and sign the bill so families like mine can get long awaited help.”

Since the medical marijuana law passed a year ago, not one patient in New York has been able to access medical marijuana.  Tragically, at least four children who would have likely benefited from it have died while waiting to obtain this much-needed medicine. Just last month, longtime medical marijuana advocate Beverly McClain, who had metastatic cancer, passed away without ever benefiting from the law she helped pass.

“With less than three months to go before New York’s medical marijuana program is slated to roll out, I’m really concerned that there could be delays in the program,” said Maryanne Houser of Suffern. “My daughter Amanda has been waiting since July of 2014 when she stood next to Governor Cuomo at the bill signing and he promised to help her. He can help her now by signing the emergency access bill.”

New York’s medical marijuana program is slated to become operational in January of 2016, but the state has yet to launch a system for patients to register and just unveiled the mandatory doctor training in mid-October. Advocates have expressed concern that too few doctors will be trained and too few patients able to register in time to take advantage of the program come January.

“As a doctor and the parent of a child with a seizure disorder, I’m disappointed the state hasn’t acted sooner to get medicine to the critically ill,” said Amy Piperato, M.D., of Thiells. “With the physician training just coming online a few weeks ago and still no system for registering patients, I’m convinced the program won’t be operational in January. The Governor should sign this bill so critically ill patients can get access as soon as possible.”

In addition, recent media accounts suggest that several of the planned dispensaries are having trouble finalizing sites. With only 20 dispensaries statewide for almost 20 million people across 54,000 square miles, the failure of even one dispensary to open is significant, especially to those who are critically ill.

“If one of the twenty dispensaries fails to open in January, that could pose a real hardship for patients who may already be facing drives over an hour to access the medicine,” said Kathy Annable of Marcellus whose daughter suffers from severe seizures. “My daughter Kaylie cannot keep waiting. We need an emergency access system so that people in life-threatening situations, like my daughter, can get medicine immediately.”

Since July, advocates have been pressuring the Cuomo administration to create an interim emergency access program for patients who may not survive the eighteen months or longer that the Governor has said is needed to get the full medical marijuana program up and running. The original version of New York’s medical marijuana bill included a provision to provide emergency access to medical marijuana for patients too ill to wait for the full program to become operational, but the Administration removed it during bill negotiations, leaving critically ill patients vulnerable.

Currently, those with terminal or critical illnesses and their families are forced to break the law, move to a state where medical marijuana is legally available, or watch their loved ones suffer knowing that there is a medication that could help them.

“It’s unconscionable that patients in life and death situations are still waiting to access medical marijuana,” said Julie Netherland, deputy state director at the Drug Policy Alliance. “We’re not confident that the program will be fully operational in January, and critically ill patients cannot afford additional delays. Governor Cuomo should stick by his promise to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

  • iamnotafraidanymore

    aint gonna happen on Cuomo’s watch he does not care about sick humans suffering in his state THAT IS obvious. everyone should plant seeds in every state forest and state government buildings grounds sow the seed everywhere ha ha ha I looked up marijuana doctors in NY last night and guess what I found? ONLY ONE that is right only ONE PPPFFT! great job dear Leader.

    • Fem Queen

      That is the reason why I am moving to NJ.

  • Jordan Shorette

    ugh i live in New York and see enough of Cuomwad and now his Basset Hound face has infiltrated my happy place the weed blog…….No!!!!!!!

    • Lawrence Goodwin

      I had the same thought, Jordan, an image of New York’s arrogant governor fouling up a page of this fine pro-cannabis web site! Check out the anti-cannabis propaganda piece scheduled for Thursday (Nov. 5) at 6 p.m. by News10ABC, titled, “Special report: Pot chopper search” (www.news10.com). It’s bound to be the kind of puff piece that proves beyond ANY doubt that local media (except in Buffalo and the Big Apple) share a large part of the blame for keeping New York in the Dark Ages of cannabis policy.

    • Lawrence Goodwin

      Right on, Jordan! Several times, I’ve sent letters to the man imploring him to support legal cannabis. His office did respond nicely once, soon after which he started talking publicly in support of “medical marijuana.” To his credit, in January 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo supported reviving the 1980 Antonio Olivieri program before so many determined mothers, nurses and advocates from everywhere had descended on the state Capitol to demand a better law by June. Then, at the last minute, Cuomo caved to the same hysterical lies about cannabis plants believed by too many NY state lawmakers and NY State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. The ONLY thing we have to fear about cannabis, is the fear of these plants itself! (Google “WTEN” and behold the anti-cannabis propaganda piece scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. by News10ABC, titled, “Special report: Pot chopper search.” Please, wake me up when this New York nightmare is over.)

  • Lawrence Goodwin

    My heart goes out to every single New Yorker who could benefit from legal access to medical cannabis, however many tens of thousands of people that happens to be. None of them should’ve been denied that in the first place. Still, “emergency access” is a lost cause in a state very hostile to cannabis plants. New York can barely get a program started on time that was made possible by the 2014 Compassionate Care Act. Totally insensitive and arrogant officials are to blame for any delays in New York, which first passed “therapeutic research” legislation for medical cannabis in 1980. That’s 35 YEARS ago!!!!!

  • saynotohypocrisy

    What is wrong with Cuomo? He’s got a heart made out of ice. He learned his reefer madness at his father’s knee.

    • Lawrence Goodwin

      I wonder if NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s madness comes more from New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, one of the staunchest proponents of the drug war from the corrupt era of President Richard Nixon. The prohibition of cannabis has always been foisted upon our land by very wealthy families, like the Rockefellers, that stand to lose billions in profit when cannabis fibers, pulp, seeds, leaves and flowers are legally produced.

  • Sinclair

    What’s the hold up? Government moves slow but this is extreme. It’s like they are purposely stalling.

  • Sarijuana

    WHERE IS THE COMPASSION, NY? This is just craziness. Why does each state have to act like they are re-writing the constitution when they create a medical cannabis program? This drives me nuts. I’m going to go smoke a bowl. SMH