Last Update: April 16, 2015
Advocates criticize New York's medical marijuana rules
On July 5, 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a limited medical marijuana bill into law, which included several revisions he insisted upon. After 18 years of work, led by tireless Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, New York is now the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law. The health department’s FAQ on the program — which does not yet include a timeline for dispensaries being approved — is available here.
While it’s an important step forward, the law falls short in several areas — it leaves out several serious conditions, will not allow patients to smoke cannabis, fails to provide for home cultivation or even emergency access during implementation, and allows very few producers and dispensaries. In early spring 2015, the Department of Health issued regulations to implement the law, which Assemblyman Gottfried explained were needlessly restrictive and "gratuitously cruel."
Many thanks to all the patients, loved ones, legislators, supporters, donors, and organizations — including Compassionate Care New York — whose tireless work led to the enactment of New York’s medical marijuana law and who continue to work to make sure that this first — and far too limited — step forward will not be the last.
New York was one of the first states in the nation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. Unfortunately, in recent years, the “public view” exception to New York’s 1977 decriminalization law has been widely abused by police officers. New York City police have told tens of thousands of people, mostly young people of color, to empty their pockets — thus making them criminals once their marijuana was in public view.
Finally, however, the tide is turning. Last July, Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson announced his office would stop prosecuting low-level marijuana possession cases. In November 2014, Mayor Bill DeBlasio followed suit, ordering the New York Police Department to stop arresting people for marijuana possession and instead issue civil citations. This will finally bring the city police in line with state law since 1977.
Still, Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes have proposed a more comprehensive fix to New York’s unfair and wasteful marijuana laws — legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol. Let your legislators know it’s time to stop punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.
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