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NY Governor Takes Steps Towards a Pilot Program for Medical Marijuana

By Rebecca McCurry 06/10/2014

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, announced his plans on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 to begin allowing some hospitals to administer medical marijuana to patients with serious illnesses. His announcement made New York the 21st state to legalize medical marijuana to treat certain illnesses. This big step comes as a surprise to many because Gov. Cuomo was strongly against legalizing medical marijuana in the past. This pilot medical marijuana program, however, will be extremely limited.

The program will allow 20 hospitals prescribe medical marijuana to patients with cancer or other serious medical conditions. During the pilot, it will be determined how effective medical marijuana is at treating these conditions and if the state will move forward with continuing to allow New York residents use medical marijuana. At this time, it is still unclear where the hospitals will get their medical marijuana from. There are laws in New York that prohibit the hospitals from buying and selling the drug. There is also another law that prohibits the growing of marijuana in the state, even for medical purposes.

There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered about the program, such as what patients will be eligible and where the marijuana will come from. The success of the program will all depend on the cooperation of local hospitals and federal agencies. Even though the Governor has taken this big step, it is unlikely that New York patients will receive medical marijuana for their health conditions anytime soon.

The Governor's intentions are to revive the 1980 Antonio G. Olivieri Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Program. This would allow certain hospitals to distribute medical marijuana to patients. The plan is to obtain the medical marijuana from the federal government, but it is uncertain how successful that will be. If that plan does not work, it is likely that the marijuana will come from confiscated marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project believes this pilot program will be unworkable for several reasons. One of the biggest uncertainties is getting the hospitals to get involved in the program. Most hospitals are unwilling to distribute confiscated marijuana and engage in other activities that are against the federal law.

New York patients are excited about this pilot program, even though it could take some time to work out all the details. With the support of Governor Cuomo, it is believed that New York's medical marijuana program will end up being one of the best systems in the country. With Gov. Cuomo on board, patients and advocated now hope that he will pass the Compassionate Care Act, which would allow qualifying patients to become registered with the New York State Department of Health to be able to buy the drug at an approved dispensary and use it to treat their conditions.

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