In Albany, Governor Cuomo and Legislative Leaders today announced an agreement on a bill that will establish a medical marijuana program for New York State. The legislation includes provisions to ensure medical marijuana is reserved only for patients with serious conditions and is dispensed and administered in a manner that protects public health and safety.
More information on todays announcement is available HERE.
Transcript of the Governors remarks:
Good afternoon, everyone I want to welcome Senator Klein and Speaker Silver back. We also have with us today the Superintendent of the State Police, Joseph DAmico. We also have the acting Health Commissioner Dr. Zucker, Terrence OLeary and Mylan Denerstein who is the counsel. We are also joined by Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried who have been working on this issue very hard for a very long period of time on the issue we are about to discuss which is medical marijuana. I would also like to welcome the senate minority leader, Andrea Stewart- Cousins who is very supportive and her conference is supportive of this bill so I want to thank her for being here also. We are here to talk about marijuana which is a very important topic and we are going to be sending up a bill shortly that we believe strikes the right balance.
Medical Marijuana has the possibility to do a lot of good for a lot of people who are in pain and who are suffering and are in desperate need of a treatment that can provide relief. Some of these cases are the most heart wrenching cases youve ever heard. Youre dealing with children with epilepsy, babies, so there are certainly significant medical benefits that can be garnered. At the same time, there are also risks that have to be averted, public health risks, public safety risks and we believe this bill strikes the right balance. Its taken a lot of time, its taken a lot of work, its taken a lot of compromise, but we believe it strikes the right balance.
Its taken a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of compromise, but we think it strikes the right balance. Im going to ask the health commissioner and the superintendent of the State Police to give you a quick breakdown of the bill, the bill will be going up shortly, but until the bill is fully in print, I wanted to get a sense of what is in the bill and an outline of the bill, so Im going to ask them to go through it. A couple of high points on the bill: first, from my point of view given the conversation that weve been having, the bill does not allow smoking which is important. As a public health risk, the diseases that are covered, we believe are appropriate, but not overly-expansive. It will be limited to doctors who are actually administering the program which gives us a higher level of confidence because doctors are obviously highly educated, highly regulated profession. It gives the Department of Health the appropriate authority to run the program.
It has criminal penalties for people who defraud the program. Somebody said to me today, 'How can you be passing a heroine bill yesterday and a medical marijuana bill today?' Well if this is administered properly, were confident that only benefits will occur. And, we have criminal penalties in the bill if people try to defraud the system, they will be punished. We also have a 'fail safe' in the bill, which gives me a great deal of comfort - which basically says, the governor can suspend the program at any time on recommendation of either the State Police Superintendent or the Commissioner of Health if there is a risk to the public health or public safety. So, if we find that there were unintended consequences and they were negative, we can suspend the program. Which to me is a bottom-line fail safe provision in this bill, which actually increases my comfort level a great deal. With that I will turn it over to the commissioner of health Dr. Zucker."