By David Klepper, Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York will give patients with certain serious illnesses faster access to medical marijuana under legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo while the state works out the details of its full medical cannabis program.
The measure will create an expedited approval process for people facing degenerative diseases and those who further face the risk of death or serious harm without the drug. It also authorizes state health officials to work with regulated producers who can provide marijuana to patients as soon as possible.
New York’s wider medical marijuana program is expected to be operational in January — a full 18 months after lawmakers approved it.
People with AIDS, terminal cancers and the parents of children with severe epilepsy have long sought early access, arguing that critically ill individuals shouldn’t have to wait any longer.
The bill posed a conundrum to Cuomo, a Democrat who has favored a cautious and conservative approach to medical cannabis. In a statement announcing his approval of the bill, he wrote that the state must ensure that early access to the drug doesn’t run afoul of federal law — or jeopardize the state’s wider program by violating federal law.
“I deeply sympathize with New Yorkers suffering from serious illness and I appreciate that medical marijuana may alleviate their chronic pain and debilitating symptoms,” Cuomo wrote. “I am also mindful, however, of the overarching authority, jurisdiction and oversight of the federal government.”
Source: The Cannabist