ALBANY, N.Y. -- A deal has been reached to establish a medical marijuana program in New York State, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Advocates for the bill asked the governor to support passing the measure before session ends on Thursday.
The bill, also known as the Compassionate Care Act, would legalize medical marijuana for severely ill patients. The deal described Thursday would include the following:
-The deal does not include smoking. Instead, marijuana will be dosed in oils, pills, or be vaporized.
-The governor’s office can suspend the program at any time, and the State Police Superintendent can recommend the Governor suspend the program if public risks are discovered.
-Doctors will decide if a patient is eligible, and the patient will then have to apply for a registration card with the Department of Health that they must carry at all times. Dosage will be determined by doctors on a patient basis.
-The DOH would be able to suspend or revoke the card of a patient who willfully violates any provision of the new law.
-There will be five registered organizations to run four dispensaries.
· Multiple Sclerosis
· Spinal Cord Injuries
· Inflammatory Bowel Disease
-Other illnesses can be added, as state health officials or the governor’s office see fit.
-Health insurers would not be required to provide coverage for medical marijuana.
-Penalty of up to one year in prison for patients giving out their prescribed marijuana.
-It will be a Class E Felony for doctors who give marijuana to patients not in need.
-Marijuana will be subject to lab testing.
-The legislation puts into place a seven percent excise tax on every sale of medical marijuana by a registered organization to a certified patient or designated caregiver.
-The DOH has the authority to issue any necessary regulations to implement the state’s medical marijuana program as well as set a price.
Tim Emmerson was among the many people of all different ages and backgrounds came to the Capitol Thursday to urge the governor and the legislature to pass medical marijuana.
“These children shouldn’t have to suffer anymore,” he said. “The people with MS and cancer don’t need to suffer from the side effects of other medications.”
Emmerson has a daughter with epilepsy. He believes medical marijuana could help her.
Emmerson was part of a group of parents who stood outside senate chambers to deliver thousands of signed petitions. The door was locked, so the receptionist met them instead.
“Please look around me,” parent Kate Hintz pleaded. “Which one of these sick and disabled children, grandparents, vets or husbands are you referring to? None of us are looking for a gateway drug. We are tired of drugs and with one word you could help us.”
After the bill was passed, Cuomo said the Compassionate Care Act was sent to the printer and a message of necessity will be used to ensure legislators can vote on it Thursday night.
The bill would take effect immediately and sunset in seven years.
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