Updated, 4:12 p.m. EST Nov. 11:
Gov. Cuomo signed the emergency bill late Wednesday afternoon.
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried’s office released a statement shortly after. “This emergency access law is designed to get medicine to the neediest patients, including young children, as quickly as possible. It gives the Health Department flexibility to modify requirements of the current law and regulations to speed up production and distribution to patients with the most critical need,” the statement read. “For the most seriously ill patients, even minor delays – a day, a week, a month – are life-changing.”
Original story below:
A bill that would grant critically ill patients early access to medical cannabis is slated to be signed or vetoed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Wednesday.
The bill comes in response to the 18 month wait for the start of New York State’s medical marijuana program, which is scheduled to be up and running in January. Parents of children with severe epilepsy and people living with AIDS held a rally in front of the governor’s office in Manhattan Tuesday morning. Advocates argue that the wait for the program has hindered the health of those in need of medical cannabis.
Assembly member Richard Gottfried is unaware of any argument against the bill and has been in discussions with the Cuomo administration for months.
“I urge Governor Cuomo to sign the bill to give the Health Department more options to get this medicine to these patients,” said Gottfried.
If the bill becomes law, the Medical Marijuana Expedited Access Bill would issue the critically ill cards to prove they are medical cannabis patients, as well as ensure some protection from law enforcement and child protective services. The bill would also allow the health department to modify the requirements stated in the Compassionate Care Act to quicken the production and distribution of medicinal cannabis for those patients in need.
There are no details on which of the five licensed medical cannabis businesses will begin to prepare products for early sale, or will be prepared to do so, if the bill is approved.
With bipartisan support, the bill passed both houses of the legislature in June by a vote of 130 to 18 in the Assembly and 50 to 12 in the Senate. The bill was recently delivered to Cuomo, who has not voiced his plan of action.
If the bill is not signed or vetoed Wednesday, it will become law.
Photo by Canucklynn, Creative Commons