According to a statement released by Governor Cuomo’s office, the bill allows substance use disorder providers to recommend medical cannabis for pain instead of pharmaceutical drugs that contribute opioid addiction.
“In this battle against the opioid epidemic, it is critical that we use every means at our disposal to prevent the unnecessary prescription of these dangerous and addictive painkillers,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. “Adding these conditions to the list of those approved for management with medical marijuana will help reduce the risk of addiction and provide suffering New Yorkers the relief they need.”
Following the governor’s primary win on September 13 when he defeated the popular pro-cannabis Cynthia Nixon, many wondered if the CynthiaEffect would really push Cuomo toward marijuana, which in 2017 he called a “gateway drug.”
According to NORML, Cuomo currently holds a C- grade on the cannabis issue.
This piece of legislation, however, is a small but positive step in the right direction according to many.
"We know that medical marijuana can be a helpful alternative for a wide range of illnesses and conditions," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in a statement. "By expanding the approved list, we are providing New Yorkers with new options, and preventing the danger that comes from opioid addiction."
The Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Linda Rosenthal, noted that, "By adding substance use disorder and pain management to the list of conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana, we will be allowing New Yorkers to take advantage of a harm reduction technique that can be used as an alternative to highly addictive opioids."
New York has previously added chronic pain and PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
Governor Cuomo's administration is working to draft legislation for the legalization of recreational marijuana.