New York has become the 23rd state to open its doors to medical marijuana. Back in July of 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a limited medical marijuana bill. Supporters in New York are frustrated with the bill’s restrictions and how long it is taking to go into effect.
Kate Hintz is a supporter of medical marijuana. She has a petition on Change.org to pass the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act.
On March 24, U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen. and Don Young along with U.S. Senators Rand Paul, Kirstin Gellibrand and Cory Booker introduced the CARERS Act, which would prevent the federal government from controlling or interfering with the state medical marijuana laws.
Hintz wants this bill to pass for her daughter, Morgan. Morgan is four-years-old and suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that causes frequent and dangerous seizures.
The medications prescribed to Morgan have not only been ineffective, but have also given her terrible side effects. Doctors have suggested the use of cannabidiol oil, a form of medical marijuana.
Hints wrote a letter on change.org urging more people to co-sponsor the bill.
“Congress is lagging far behind the American people on this issue and it’s going to take all of our voices to change the status quo,” Gellibrand wrote in response to the letter.
Hintz is just one of many families who have a loved one suffering from ailments like this.
Marijuana at the federal level is still considered a schedule I drug, which is defined a drug with no currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse.
“Marijuana, it doesn’t kill people, you can’t overdose on it. However, it has been scheduled as a class one drug for whatever reason,” Matt Elmes, a PhD student at Stony Brook University who conducted a study on marijuana said. “In recent years it has been a lot easier to study it and it seems to be easier and easier, so I think there will be a lot more studies coming out on the effects and benefits and how we can use this drug.”
Many medical marijuana advocated are unhappy with the restrictions that were put on the bill in order for Cuomo to pass it.
“It is the compassionate care act, but many people now refer to it as the Cuomo care act,” Brian Batrowny, a member of the New York Cannabis Alliance, said. “He refused to sign it [the bill] until there were several provisions made.”
The most notable provisions that Governor Cuomo made were that he eliminated ailments that were initially on the bill to receive medical marijuana as a form of treatment and to use medical cannabis it needs to be extracted into an oil form‑not smoked and not an edible.
Here’s what the medical marijuana law does say: A patient who has been certified by a doctor to use medical marijuana will register with the New York State Department of Health and receive a patient I.D. card. Specially approved organization can dispense the medical marijuana to these patients—under the Department of Health’s supervision.
In order to receive this treatment, one must have what the state defines as a “serious condition.” Some of these include, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and managing epilepsy.
One of the major issues for advocates now is the bill is taking a long time to come into effect.
Hintz spoke at a press conference at the end of April with her daughter about how mothers who have children with epilepsy often obtain medical cannabis illegally, which makes them technically criminals.
“How much longer do you want to delay,” she asked Cuomo.
New York’s medical marijuana program is set to begin next year.
In a press release on April 28, from Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried he addresses this issue. The release talked about how the bill came 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law.
“To date, not one patient has received medical marijuana, and at least three children who might have benefitted from this well-known form of medical marijuana, have died since the bill was passed,” the press release reads.
Since July, advocates have been pressuring the Cuomo Administration to create an interim emergency access program for those who are suffering and may not be able to wait the amount of time that the Governor needs to get the medical marijuana program up and running.
Representatives like Gottfried and all behind the CARERS Act, have been doing that they can in the mean time to help.
“The failure of the Cuomo Administration to act in the face of the suffering of the terminally and critically ill and the deaths of at least three young children is unconscionable,” Julie Netherland, PhD, deputy state director at the Drug Policy Alliance, said.