Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, a Democratic sponsor of the medical marijuana legislation, criticized “senseless burdensome restrictions” on the program.
By JESSE McKINLEY and CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS
March 29, 2015
ALBANY — When New York State’s lawmakers were mulling legalizing the medical use of marijuana last summer, some proponents feared that the proposed law was so restrictive that it would prevent many patients from receiving the drug.
Now, with the state’s Health Department close to issuing final regulations about the new program, the law’s supporters say their fears may soon be realized.
The law itself is quite restrictive: Only 10 conditions qualify for medical use of marijuana; the drug may not be smoked; and New York will initially allow only 20 dispensaries across the state, run by five organizations.
The regulations go even further. Sales would be restricted to five so-called brands of medical marijuana, which concerns some supporters who say patients and doctors need flexibility to find out which of the hundreds of strains of marijuana works best for a particular condition. (The regulations even stipulate that brand names cannot be “coined or fanciful, and may not include any ‘street,’ slang or other name.”)
Democratic Senator Diane J. Savino arrived for session at the New York State Senate on March 17.
Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat who was one of the law’s sponsors, voiced deep frustration this month with “a long list of senseless burdensome restrictions on patients and organizations.”
“There are people from very, very young children to very elderly New Yorkers who are going to continue to suffer unnecessarily,” Mr. Gottfried said.
The regulations also impose constraints in unexpected ways. A plumber may not be able to unclog a sink in a dispensary without prior written approval. Drinking a Coke or even milk on the premises could be a violation.
All of which is surprising, advocates say, because of New York’s somewhat late entry into the medical marijuana market: Nearly half of states nationwide already allow medical use of the drug, and California, the first to do so, has allowed it for almost two decades.
“The administration continues to operate as though medical marijuana programs have never been operated before,” said Gabriel Sayegh, the managing director for policy and campaigns at the Drug Policy Alliance, which …Read More