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Will New York’s Governor Sign Legislation to Expedite Access to Medical Marijuana?

Jun 16, 2015 • 1:19 PM EDT
2 MIN READ  •  By Michael Berger
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Late Monday night, the New York State Senate passed legislation which requires the state to expedite access to medical marijuana. The legislation had already been approved by the State Assembly and will now be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

The legislation was sponsored by Republican Senator Joe Griffo and had received strong push back from Senator Diane Savino, an unlikely opponent. Senator Savino was one of the original sponsors of the Compassionate Care Act which was passed last year and created a medical marijuana program in New York.

A question of motives

Senator Savino questioned how the bill would be implemented and said that it was being promoted by advocacy groups who wanted to see recreational marijuana legalized.

Before the vote was held, Senator Savino said, “I’m going to recommend that you vote against this bill. Not because I don’t understand what Senator Griffo sees when he looks in the eyes of those little children. I know what he sees. I see it too. We need to keep on the path of full access to all patients.”

Gabriel Sayegh, the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance, was surprised to see strong opposition from Senator Savino. He said, “She seemed to be doing the bidding of the Cuomo Administration in opposing the bill.”

The most restrictive program in the country

The Health Department’s regulations have been criticized by Sayegh and the Drug Policy Alliance for being too restrictive. New York’s medical marijuana program will allow state-certified doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy and other serious diseases and conditions.

Sayegh said, “The administration continues to operate as though medical marijuana programs have never been operated before. If we were having this discussion in 1998, one would understand the extreme caution. But it’s not the late 1990s, it’s 2015.”

Sayegh said he would be surprised if Governor Cuomo signed the bill. The Drug Policy Alliance has criticized Cuomo and his team for months saying they have taken their time and made the program so restrictive that it may be almost unworkable.

Will the Governor sign the bill?

The bill will need to be signed by Governor Cuomo before it becomes official and Rich Azzopardi a spokesman for the governor declined to say whether or not Cuomo would sign the bill.

Azzopardi said, “Our top priority has always been to deliver relief to those in pain. We will review the legislation in the context of implementing the Compassionate Care Act and complying with existing federal statutes.”

Sayegh said, “I’m not going to be surprised if [Cuomo] doesn’t sign it just because he’s been so beyond the pale on this whole thing. If he doesn’t sign this, I guess he can go ahead and explain to New York parents why it is he doesn’t think their kids should be saved.”

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Authored By

Michael Berger

Michael Berger is Managing Partner of StoneBridge Partners, LLC and Founder of Technical420.com. Prior to entering the cannabis industry, Michael was an Equity Research Analyst at Raymond James Financial covering the Energy Sector. Michael has been featured in publications such as The Street, Bloomberg, US Money News, and hosts various cannabis events across North America.

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