New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated today that a deal has been reached for the state to move forward with a limited medical marijuana program. The Compassionate Care Act is now up against the clock for a vote by the state legislature before the session ends late Thursday or early Friday.
According to statements made by the governor and live streamed onto his website today, the act will allow those with certain debilitating illnesses to receive recommendations for treatment with medical marijuana from certified physicians. The recommending physicians would be required to take a training course and register with the state.
While all the details of the final bill have not been made clear at this time, the New York Times reports that the state will not allow cannabis to be smoked, but vaporizing, edibles and tinctures will be allowed.
Governor Cuomo indicated that the program could be altered with the recommendations of the superintendent of state police and the commissioner of public health. Cuomo also said he will retain the power to “pull the plug” on the program upon the recommendation of the commissioners.
If signed into law, New York State’s medical marijuana program will be overseen by the State Health Department, which would have 18 months implement the act.
Representatives of the state have said they intend to initially allow four dispensaries that will be run as non-state entities.
“New York has finally done something significant for thousands of patients who are suffering and need relief now. They will benefit from this compromise,” a statement issued by the Drug Policy Alliance said. “That said, this is not the bill we wanted. We are disappointed to learn that eligible conditions have been limited, and despite strong medical evidence about the benefits of smoked and raw cannabis, leaders decided to exclude this as an option for doctors and patients in New York. We strongly believe that the decision about the mode of administration for any medication should be left up to a doctor and their patients.”
Update 6/20/2014: The Senate voted 49 -10 to approve the Compassionate Care Act in the early morning hours of Friday, June 20. The governor is soon expected to sign the bill into law.
Update 7/7/2014: Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law over the Fourth of July weekend.