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Governor Cuomo Sets Stage for Strong Medical Marijuana Legislation

Governor Cuomo’s endorsement of the medical value of cannabis for many patients with serious debilitating and life-threatening conditions gives new strength to the issue.

His decision to activate the 1980 Olivieri law is an important interim step under the law available to him. But that law is very limited and cumbersome. I urge Governor Cuomo to join the effort to enact new comprehensive tightly-regulated legislation this session in Albany.

Science is well beyond where we were in 1980. In other states, tightly-regulated cannabis producers are able to produce strains of cannabis with different strengths and compositions to reflect patient conditions and needs. There are many patients who could benefit from medical marijuana who cannot be helped under the 1980 law, such as children with severe epilepsy.

For New York to have a comprehensive and well-working system, we need to pass legislation this year. Assembly bill A.6357 (Gottfried)/S.4406 (Savino) would set up a tightly regulated and controlled medical marijuana system.

Practitioners licensed to prescribe controlled substances could certify patient need, and certified patients would register with the Health Department. Both the certification process and dispensing of medical marijuana would be included in the I-STOP prescription monitoring system for controlled substances enacted in 2012. The Health Department would license and regulate entities to produce and dispense medical marijuana for certified patients. They would be required to comply with detailed “seed to sale” security controls and regulations. A clinical advisory committee made up predominately of health care professionals would advise the Health Commissioner on clinical matters.