New York’s upcoming medical marijuana program will look nothing like California’s, where “green cards” may be issued for everything from insomnia to headaches. Instead, as advocates argued on Tuesday at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, the highly restrictive program will allow medical marijuana for only “a handful” of New Yorkers with certain conditions, and even they may have trouble accessing the state’s few dispensaries.
At the forum Tuesday, organizers with Compassionate Care NY and advocacy groups like VOCAL-NY, Boom! Health, and the Drug Policy Alliance argued that New York’s medical marijuana program will be far too small to make a big difference in residents’ lives: Preliminary regulations include only 10 diagnoses in the list of patients’ qualifying conditions, and allow for only five organizations to open four dispensary sites each, creating a total of just 20 medical marijuana dispensaries to serve the entire state and its population of 20 million.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who fought against the Compassionate Care Act and even threatened to veto it, has acted as a barrier to the more inclusive medical marijuana policy advocates would like. His resistance forced the Compassionate Care NY coalition to make the restrictive concessions they are now hoping the Department of Health commissioner may revise.
With a February 13th deadline for public input on regulations drafted to implement the Compassionate Care Act [PDF] approaching, advocates for legal medical marijuana access are hurrying to gather enough support to convince NY’s Department of Health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to broaden the scope of the state’s medical marijuana program, which should be functioning as early as January 2016.
– Read the entire article at The Gothamist.