While the Compassionate Care Act that passed in June permits medical marijuana use in New York, the slow rollout of the plan has patients waiting on relief for at least another year.
The law is meant to help people suffering from serious diseases, but with restrictions and delay in implementation, it falls short for many.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed last week the program is not scheduled to start before 2016, which has prompted a push for early access.
Under the law, patients must be certified by a health care provider to use medical marijuana and physicians must be registered with the state Department of Health, which requires the completion of a short training course.
The patient will also have to register with the state health department and receive a patient identification card, which lays out what form of the drug and dosage is allowed for that patient.
Medical marijuana will be given to registered patients only by specially approved dispensaries, such as hospitals or community health centers, under close health department supervision. The law states there will be up to 20 dispensaries across the state — five businesses are authorized to grow and distribute and each can have four dispensaries.
The details of who will grow, distribute and prescribe the drug need to be ironed out before the program gets underway.
The faces behind Compassionate Care New York — a statewide group of patients, providers and organizations working toward a successful medical marijuana program — pushed for the law and are now advocating for early access to the treatment, for themselves and especially for epileptic children who are often suffering multiple seizures each day.
“The bottom line is people can’t wait until January 2016,” said Susan Rusinko, a multiple sclerosis patient and advocate for Compassionate Care NY. “I’m afraid we’re going to lose more people and more kids are going to die before they do something.”
Several New York representatives last week joined in the fight for early access, including Cuomo who requested permission from the U.S. Department of Justice to import marijuana from outside New York specifically for children and young adults with epilepsy.
Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand backed the governor’s request, urging the Attorney General to approve Cuomo’s request to import a strain of the drug that has successfully treated symptoms of epilepsy.
Still, emergency access would take time — time that many patients don’t have.
“It’s urgent for the kids,” said Holly Anderson, an advocate for Compassionate Care New York and Executive Director of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, which serves many patients in Ontario County. “It’s a life and death situation for these children. But we’re pushing for early access for others as well.”
Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by FAIRPORTEASTROCHESTERPOST
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