New York State Legalizes MMJ At the Last Second
June 20th, 2014
Policy, Top News
Governor Andrew Cuomo and other government leaders agreed to legalize certain forms of marijuana for patients with a limited number of diseases this week, following decades of campaigning by marijuana advocates. The deal came after intense last-minute negotiations before lawmakers went home for the year and is now pending the signature of the governor to become law.
While lawmakers were pushing for more lenient regulations, the governor made it clear that he would only sign the bill if it contained strict requirements. The resulting bill would only allow doctors to prescribe oil-based and vapor marijuana to individuals with about six different qualifying conditions, including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis among others.
The law would not legalize the smoking of marijuana, the governor would be able to suspend the program at any time, and the program will automatically expire in seven years when it will require reauthorization. Despite these restrictions, the law would make New York State the 23rd in the U.S. to legalize at least some forms of marijuana for medical purposes and the second ban smoking forms.
Governor Cuomo had been recently advocating for a pilot program introducing medical marijuana in hospitals before a larger rollout, but a push from legislatures helped the bill take a more liberal form. In particular, Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried had been advocating the bill for some time, until politics surrounding the issue finally improved this year.
Medical marijuana advocates, including the Drug Policy Alliance and Compassionate Care NY, were disappointed by the restrictions placed on the program, but were happy that some form of the bill passed. In particular, the ban on smoking was nearly a non-starter for advocates, since patients would be face much more difficulty securing proprietary forms of the drug.
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