Politico NY – State to allow medical marijuana for chronic pain

By Josefa Velasquez, 12/1/16

ALBANY — Chronic pain will soon be added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, the state’s Department of Health announced Thursday.

“After conducting a thorough review of the scientific literature, it became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain,” said Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. “Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York State, and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program.

DOH will develop a proposed regulatory amendment that will include specific language specifying the chronic pain conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana. The language of the proposed amendment was not immediately available.

Albany Times-Union: State to add chronic pain to list of conditions medical marijuana can treat

By Matthew Hamilton, December 1

New Yorkers suffering from certain chronic pain will be able to use medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms, the state Department of Health announced on Thursday.

That addition to the strict list of conditions treatable by medical marijuana products is one of the most significant strides the state has taken to expand the program to date.

It’s not yet clear exactly what kind of chronic pain will be treatable under the program’s rules. The department will develop a regulatory amendment, which will specify the chronic pain conditions that will qualify patients for the program. That amendment is to be published for public comment soon, the department said.

Buffalo Business Journal – New York adds chronic pain as qualifier for medical marijuana

By Tracey Drury, 12/1/16

Another major change is coming to New York’s medical marijuana program, one that doctors say could more than double the number of qualified patients.

The state Department of Health announced Thursday it would add chronic pain as a qualifying condition. It joins 10 qualifying conditions initially identified when the state program began: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies and Huntington’s disease. Also covered are individuals with spinal cord injuries tied to spasticity.

Gannett – Repeal of Obamacare could bust New York’s budget

By Joe Spector, 11/11 (via WGRZ)

ALBANY — President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could have steep fiscal implications for New York, which has 3.3 million people enrolled in its health exchange.

Since New York’s health exchange launched under so-called Obamacare in 2013, Medicaid recipients rapidly increased as millions of low-income New Yorkers signed up for health care.

The federal government subsidized much of the cost, and last year New York launched a new program, the Essential Plan — an off-shoot of Medicaid that in part provides coverage to immigrants otherwise ineligible — that has seen its enrollment soar.

The state Budget Division estimated that the federal subsidies for the Essential Plan alone this year would exceed $1 billion, which could be wiped out under Trump’s proposals.

Albany Times-Union – Changes in marijuana policy could impact New York

By Matthew Hamilton, 11/12

A divided electorate found agreement in one area Tuesday: marijuana policy.

Voters in eight of nine states where marijuana-related initiatives were on the ballot approved either recreational or medicinal use of the drug. Among the eight states was Massachusetts, where voters approved recreational use beginning Dec. 15 and put the first retail marijuana shops in the Bay State on track to open in January 2018.

 With the Massachusetts vote and, more broadly, a Donald Trump White House beginning in January, the drug policy outlook is mixed for New York, where a strict medical marijuana program exists but recreational use of the drug is a nonstarter at the Capitol.
There are those who view Massachusetts as potentially catalytic for favorable recreational marijuana policy in neighboring New England states. More recreational availability possibly could eat into the New York medical program’s patient base, not to mention offer an outlet for Capital Region residents 21 and older to hop across state lines to purchase pot. The same people are cautious about a Republican White House and cabinet that may not look favorably on progressive drug policies.

Gannett – NY braces for legal marijuana in Massachusetts

By Joe Spector, 11/10 (via WGRZ)

ALBANY — A vote Tuesday in Massachusetts to legalize recreational marijuana may have a significant impact on its border state New York.

Law-enforcement officials in New York said they will be monitoring the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, which will allow for possession of some pot there starting Dec. 15.

Massachusetts won’t allow marijuana shops to open until 2018. A vote in Maine to legalize weed was uncertain Thursday, but if approved, it would make them the first two states in the Northeast to do so.

Times-Union – End of Obamacare Could Cost New York $850M

By Claire Hughes, 11/10

President-elect Donald Trump‘s intention to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act could affect New York’s budget, to the tune of at least $850 million a year.

Billions more are at stake if a Trump administration and Republican-led Congress stop funding the expansion of Medicaid under the 2010 law, the signature health policy of President Barack Obama known as Obamacare.

Other Republican reforms could impact what New Yorkers pay for health insurance, whether they are individuals buying policies on the state’s Obamacare website, NY State of Health, or workers who get coverage through their employers.

A full repeal of the law may not be that easy, at least under current congressional rules, but changes that affect the federal budget could be made through the reconciliation process. Republicans have already tried to alter the law through that method, but have had their bills vetoed by President Obama. President-elect Trump would likely sign off on such measures, said Richard Nathan, who directs the ACA Implementation Research Network at the Rockefeller Institute of Governmentin Albany.

At a minimum, the state would lose a large portion of the estimated $850 million in federal assistance for offering what in New York is called the Essential Plan, according to state Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan. The Essential Plan offers health coverage with no deductible for $20 a month to low income New Yorkers who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Common Dreams – ‘Tipping Point’? Voters Bring Sweeping Wins for Marijuana

By Nadia Prupis, 11/9

On a dismal election night, voters in four lucky states found something progressive to celebrate—recreational marijuana legalization.

California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all voted to make it legal for adults over 21 to smoke weed, a sweeping mandate that many expect will prompt a legislative domino effect throughout the country.

Nowhere is that felt more strongly than in the politically influential state of California. Advocates have long said that if legalization passed there, other states would be likely to follow suit. Both California and Nevada’s wins also help strengthen a West Coast “marijuana bloc,” as the New York Times put it, joining Alaska, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon in making recreational use legal in their states and throughout the region.

Arizona, the final state considering full legalization, narrowly rejected its ballot measure. Medical marijuana remains legal in the state, however.

“Marijuana reform won big across America on Election Day—indeed it’s safe to say that no other reform was approved by so many citizens on so many ballots this year,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), although he also cautioned that the election of Donald Trump threatens the advances made on Tuesday.

Chelsea Now: Forum Shops Strategies for Saving Small Businesses

By Sean Egan, 10/27 Penn South resident Gloria Sukenick alerted the panel that Fashion Design Books on W. 27th St. (across from the Fashion Institute of Technology) would be shuttering its doors soon. Photo by Sean Egan.

Penn South resident Gloria Sukenick alerted the panel that Fashion Design Books on W. 27th St. (across from the Fashion Institute of Technology) would be shuttering its doors soon. Photo by Sean Egan.

BY SEAN EGAN | “The fabric of this city is dying,” said Chelsea resident Roberta Gelb, while chiding the City Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for the decades-long stalling of a bill that would strengthen the rights of commercial tenants during lease negotiations with landlords.

Unambiguous and apoplectic, Gelb’s linking of political inaction to the loss of single- and family-owned businesses was a common refrain at Oct. 20’s forum (“The Death (& Rebirth?) of NYC’s Mom-and-Pops”) — sponsored by the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC; crdcnyc.org) in order to address the issue and examine solutions — most significantly, the aforementioned bill, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA).

Chelsea Now: Block Association Commends Pols, Police, Peers

By Dennis Lynch, October 26

The 300 West 23rd, 22nd, 21st Streets Block Association honored and heard from local community leaders, pols, and law enforcement officers at their annual community meeting at St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church (315 W. 22nd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) on Oct. 24. The block association gave each honoree a framed print of the buildings on the 300 block of 21st St., between Eighth and Ninth Aves., the same iconic image the association uses as its logo.

The association honored Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Councilmember Corey Johnson, longtime President of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations Bill Borock, and the NYPD’s Chelsea-based 10th Precinct.