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.
Unfortunately, the compromise bill falls short in several areas — it leaves out several serious conditions, will not allow patients to smoke cannabis, and allows very few producers and dispensaries. However, the program represents tremendous progress and will provide safe access to medical marijuana for thousands of seriously ill New Yorkers, like Dr. Richard Carlton’s wife, who suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease.
The Department of Health has issued draft regulations. Our allies at Compassionate Care New York have a number of concerns about the proposed rules further limiting access for patients in need. You can check them out here by clicking on “CCNY Concerns with Draft MMJ Regulations.”
Many thanks to all the patients, loved ones, legislators, supporters, donors, and organizations whose tireless work led to the enactment of New York’s medical marijuana law and who continue to work to make sure that this important 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, 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.