New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed two bills to expedite the availability of “emergency medical marijuana” to qualifying patients.
The move took many by surprise as New York’s medical marijuana program wasn’t due to start for two months.
The bill, now legislation, allows special certification for “a patient whose condition is progressive and degenerative or for whom a delay in the patient’s certified medical use of medical marihuana poses a serious risk to the person’s life or health.”
The legislation is effective immediately.
A statement from Governor Cuomo stated that he ““deeply sympathized with New Yorkers suffering from chronic illness, and that medical marijuana may alleviate their chronic pain and debilitating symptoms.”
The action comes after medicinal cannabis supporters rallied outside Governor Cuomo’s office to urge the Governor to sign the bill.
New York passed a medical marijuana law in July 2014, but to date patients have not been able to access medicines and there have been fears the formal launch of the program in January will be delayed.
The New York State Medical Marijuana Program will make medicine available to people with cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease; plus associated conditions.
Patients who are certified by their practitioners must apply to the Department to obtain a registry identification card in order to obtain medical marijuana. At this stage, there are five manufacturing facilities and twenty dispensaries approved throughout New York State.
Organizations registered to to manufacture and dispense will be able to offer up to five brands of medical marijuana product. At least one brand must have a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high cannabidiol (CBD) content and one with approximately equal amounts of THC and CBD.
Approved forms of medicinal cannabis will include liquids and oil for vaporizing those that can be administered via inhaler, plus capsules that can be administered orally. Smoking marijuana under the program will be prohibited.
The New York State Commissioner will set the price per dose for each form of medical marijuana available.