Some medical marijuana improvements in progress; MPP pushes to add PTSD to the program

Last update: April 20, 2017


New York’s medical marijuana program has been roundly criticized for being unduly restrictive and failing to provide meaningful access for patients. Thankfully, the Department of Health has been taking significant steps to address some of the issues, including by allowing written certifications for the program to be issued by nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants whose supervising physicians are registered with the medical marijuana program. Home delivery is now allowed, and medical marijuana businesses will no longer be limited to just five “brands” of medical marijuana.

Most importantly, chronic pain was added to the list of qualifying conditions, with some restrictions. This is particularly important because medical marijuana can help patients reduce their use of dangerous opioids. MPP and our supporters urged that the restrictions in the proposed rules be removed, and while the Department of Health declined to do so, it did clarify that patients need not try opioids prior to qualifying for medical cannabis.

But, many more improvements can still be made, including expanding the list of qualifying conditions. MPP is working to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition — which 24 of the 29 medical marijuana states already do. The only medications FDA-approved to treat PTSD are no more effective than a placebo! And they are much more dangerous, while there are promising studies showing that medical cannabis can help. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried has introduced a bill, A 7006, that would add PTSD. If you are a New York patient who suffers from PTSD and would like to lend your voice to the effort, please contact us.

Will New York finally fix its decrim law 40 years later?


New York was one of the first states in the nation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana — in 1977. Yet, 40 years later there is still a giant loophole in the law, which has caused thousands more arrests, and all of the collateral consequences that come with them. The “public view” exception to the decriminalization law has been widely abused by police officers, who order people, mostly young people of color, to empty their pockets and then arrest them for possessing marijuana in public view. Over 18,000 people were still arrested for marijuana possession in 2016, in New York City alone.

Several bills have already been introduced to address this issue in some way, including A 678, which simply eliminates the public view loophole, and A 2142 and S 3809, which would allow the sealing of some records of marijuana possession offenses. Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed his support for fixing this problem when he laid out his 2017 legislative priorities and included a fix in his budget bills,but the provision did not make it into the final budget.

A more comprehensive fix to New York’s unfair and wasteful marijuana laws would be to legalize marijuana for adults and regulate 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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