Compassionate Care NY update from March leaves little hope for people like me because they’ve been saying this for awhile. I feel like it’s all talk and no action.
• Problems with the program: Not surprisingly given the restrictive nature of the law, the medical marijuana program has experienced several problems that are impeding patient access. The main barriers we see right now are: too few doctors have enrolled and patients have few ways to find registered doctors; too few dispensaries for a state the size of NY; limitations in the kinds of medicine that are being produced; cost of the medicine is prohibitive; and many medical conditions are simply not covered by the law.
• New legislation introduced: Just a few days ago, Assemblyman Gottfried introduced four bills designed to address some of these problems. In short, they would: 1) add severe, chronic pain to the list of covered conditions; 2) lift restrictions on the kinds of medicine that can be produced, including allowing access to whole plant and smokable medical marijuana; 3) allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients to use medical marijuana; and 4) increase the number of producers and dispensaries and allow dispensaries to operate independently.
Senator Savino has also introduced two bills that would: 1) add eight medical conditions and lift the dosage limits on medical marijuana; 2) establish an advisory committee to assist the Health Commissioner in implementing NY’s medical marijuana law, and 3) recognize visiting patients’ out-of-state medical marijuana certifications. These are not the only changes planned but represent a good start in our view. You can read more about the bills here.
• Advocating to pass the new bills: Now that legislation has been introduced, we will be working with all of you to get them passed in the legislature. Join the call Wednesday, March 23rd to get more details on how you can help advocate for their passage. In the meantime, call your NYS legislators and urge them to support these bills. You can find your State Assemblyperson here: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/search and your State Senator here: https://www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator