Yesterday, Governor Cuomo 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 passed. These deaths have made even clearer what we already knew - the eighteen 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. We are looking to the Governor now for his continued leadership to ensure that our children receive the medicine that they need," said Wendy Conte from Buffalo, whose daughter recently passed following a severe seizure, "We know that this medicine is readily available. 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. The eighteen month implementation timeline is not realistic for patients, like myself, who do not have the luxury of time," said Beverly McClain, a stage four metastastic cancer patient, "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. 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," said Kate Hintz from Westchester, parent of a child who suffers from a severe seizure disorder.
"Patients and advocates have fought for years for a medical marijuana patient access system in New York," said Susan Rusinko from Auburn, an MS 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."