New York governor announces medical marijuana pilot program

Posted on January 10th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

medical marijuanaNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced during his State of the State address on Jan. 8 plans for a medical marijuana pilot program that would permit up to 20 hospitals to distribute cannabis to patients with serious illnesses. According to a press release, the pilot program "will allow qualified eligible participants to seek relief for their symptoms in a safe and legal manner, while also evaluating the effectiveness and feasibility of a medical marijuana system," with the findings of the program to help shape future policy. The plan creates the program within current New York statutory authority—specifically, the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act of 1980, which allows the state to establish medical marijuana research programs in hospitals. Critics have claimed that the reliance on this statute is unworkable in the long-term. (Jurist, Jan. 9)

The 1980 law limits participation to people with cancer, glaucoma, and other conditions added by the state Department of Health. The supply would come from the federal Compassionate Investigative New Drug (IND) program (which still provides medical marijuana to four people) or from pot seized by police. Relying on that source makes the idea "unworkable," says Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The federal weed, grown on a farm in Mississippi and distributed as machine-rolled cigarettes, has long been assailed by users as harsh and impotent. Cuomo bypassed the comprehensive medical marijuana plan put forth by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) and State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn) is a bill that passed the Assembly last year. (Gothamist, Jan. 9) Cuomo opposed that legislation at the time.

Graphic by Americans for Safe Access


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