New York: Gov. Cuomo Highlights Urgency For Swift Implementation of Medical Marijuana Program


Need for Emergency Access is Clearer than Ever with Recent Deaths

Patients, Families, and Advocates Thank Cuomo and Urge His Continued Leadership and Action to Ensure Critically Ill Patients Receive Immediate Access to Medicine

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday called for swift implementation of New York’s recently passed medical marijuana law. Since the medical marijuana bill was signed into law on July 7, three children who suffered from severe seizure disorders have already died.

These deaths have made even clearer what we already knew – the 18-month or longer timeline for implementing New York’s medical marijuana law is simply too long for some patients who face life-threatening or terminal illnesses.

The Governor’s letter follows Monday’s meeting between the Governor’s office, the Department of Health, patients, and advocates from across New York State. In his letter, Governor Cuomo acknowledges the importance of expediting the implementation process, as well as exploring any options that might provide immediate relief for patients from across the state who are in pain and suffering.

“I applaud the Governor for recognizing the urgency around implementing New York’s medical marijuana law, so that patients can obtain access to potentially life-saving medicine,” said Wendy Conte of Buffalo, whose daughter recently died following a severe seizure. “We are looking to the Governor now for his continued leadership to ensure that our children receive the medicine that they need.

"We know that this medicine is readily available," Conte said. "There is simply no reason, or excuse for why another child, like Anna, must die.”

“Many patients who face life-threatening or terminal illnesses need access to this medicine immediately,” said Beverly McClain, a stage four metastastic cancer patient. "The 18-month implementation timeline is not realistic for patients, like myself, who do not have the luxury of time. I've already passed the median survival time so I'm living on borrowed time now."

“We implore that the Governor do everything in his power to establish an interim, emergency access program for those who cannot afford to wait for full implementation to occur,” said Kate Hintz from Westchester, parent of a child who suffers from a severe seizure disorder. "We have a moral obligation to ensure that this medicine is available to those who are critically ill now. We cannot sit and wait for more deaths to occur before this is made a priority.

“Patients and advocates have fought for years for a medical marijuana patient access system in New York,” said Susan Rusinko from Auburn, a multiple sclerosis patient. “We know the fight isn’t over; we will continue to fight for immediate access to medical marijuana for those who are critically ill, and who cannot wait 18 months for relief. We will continue to push for swift implementation of an emergency access system for those patients and families who are out of time.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliance