New York State has become the 23rd U.S. state to permit the use of medical marijuana. However, it could be a while before state residents can get their hands on legal cannabis.
The controversial bill making medical marijuana legal passed through the New York State senate 49-10 and was recently signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Initially Cuomo expressed opposition to the bill, but like many critics was won over by several restrictions that were added to the legislation.
For example, the law bans the smoking of marijuana, meaning users will need to employ a vaporizer. Cuomo’s own health department will also have control over the medical marijuana program, giving the governor ample oversight. It’s expected that the state health commissioner will have the power to decide which diseases will be eligible for medical marijuana treatment. Furthermore, New York will only use marijuana grown within the state, giving public officials more control over the program.
Unfortunately for New York residents anxious to get their hands on medical marijuana, it’s expected that another eighteen months will pass before the program gets under way. The idea is to give the state time to implement the many regulations attached to the new legislation.
That’s a controversial move for people whose loved ones are suffering from serious conditions that can be helped by medical marijuana. Take, for example, Oliver Miller, who suffers from paralyzing seizures that can be overcome with cannabis consumption. Oliver’s mother, Missy, says eighteen months is far too long to wait.
“We don’t have the luxury of another year,” Miller said. “Oliver is losing skills and becoming sicker and sicker from the hundreds of seizures that he has. He cannot take another year of this.”
But Cuomo says the delay is necessary, suggesting that without the proper regulations medical marijuana could be abused and lead to a wider and more serious drug problem.
“We’re dealing with a heroin epidemic now that is highly problematic,” Cuomo said.