Caregivers, doctors and patients are at the Capitol today to press Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support legislation to legalize medical marijuana, not approve it by executive order.
Groups have raised concerns about the narrow scope of Cuomo’s plan to use a 1980 law that allows the state Health Department to approve a limited amount of medical marijuana at 20 hospitals.
The groups, including the Drug Policy Alliance, said legislation that has passed the Assembly would provide the type of regulations and controls that would help the majority of people who need medical marijuana to cope with illnesses.
In a statement, the groups said they appreciated Cuomo’s change of stance on medical marijuana after he had opposed it during his first three years in office. But his plan doesn’t go far enough, they said.
“Patients, families, caregivers and healthcare providers are deeply concerned about the governor’s current proposal — a very narrow and limited research pilot study based on a 1980 law, which experts have called unworkable and patients and caregivers believe will not help those in need,” the groups’ said in a statement.
They plan to rally outside Cuomo’s office at the Capitol.
The Compassionate Care Act to legalize and regulate medical marijuana has repeatedly passed the Democratic-led Assembly, but hasn’t won approval in the Republican-controlled Senate, despite support from a group of Democrats that share control of the chamber.
The bill would provide medical marijuana to patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe seizure disorders and other debilitating conditions, as as well epilepsy impacting children.
Some parents have warned that Cuomo’s plan wouldn’t help children, who may benefit from an oil-based cannabis that is available in some states.
In his State of the State address, Cuomo outlined that medical marijuana would be available at 20 hospitals to patients ” (1) with cancer, glaucoma and other diseases approved by the Commissioner of Health (ii) who are in a life-threatening or sense-threatening situation and (iii) have been certified by a physician as meeting these criteria.”
Cuomo said during his speech that, “We’ll establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana, and we will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and the feasibility of a medical marijuana system.”