The half-assed nature of the medical marijuana program that New York promises to have up and running at the beginning of 2016 isn’t enough to appease the majority of patients who will suffer a lack of access under the state’s heavily regulated scheme.
To combat this injustice, a group of disgruntled patients have reportedly drafted a piece of legislation aimed at tearing down the walls that make the Compassionate Care Act so restrictive and, in a lot of ways, worthless to the thousands of patients living in New York City that could benefit from the use of this medicine.
This band of average citizens has proposed a “medical marihuana users’ bill of rights,” in addition to requesting the support of the city council in backing the creation of a co-op system that would serve patients with various ailments, including those that do not fall under the state’s list of qualified conditions. The state’s current plan only allows patients suffering from 10 “severe, debilitating, or life threatening” conditions to receive a recommendation for medical marijuana.
“The law and the regulations don’t cover people who are [also] legitimate patients,” Dana Beal, one of the authors of the bill, told the Village Voice. “We believe that under home rule, we can extend better availability and better prices to more people.”
Unfortunately, while an extremely skittish Governor Cuomo eventually signed New York’s medical marijuana program into law last year, the entire system has been labeled one of the most restrictive in the nation. Not only does the program fail to cover a broad scope of conditions, but it will also make it extremely difficult for those patients who do qualify to get their hands on the medicine.
To make things worse, there are almost no doctors in the entire state willing to offer medical marijuana recommendations for qualified patients. And even if they did, many of these people would struggle to pay because the program is a pariah to all insurance networks.
These are all attributes of the Compassionate Care Act that the patient’s coalition wants to remedy with their current proposal.
The goal is to get the New York City Health Department onboard with the development of a comprehensive citywide program that would allow patients—both residents and visitors—with any condition or disease to have the ability to get medical marijuana. This proposed co-op would not only make the herb more readily available, but it would also keep the prices to a modest and reasonable level.
In fact, the objective is to provide medical marijuana to anyone in need for a price of $1 per gram. However, supporters of the bill say it could end up being more.
As far as cultivation, the bill suggests that the city should sponsor efforts to transform vacant buildings and lots into grow facilities.
Unlike the contents of the Compassionate Care Act, the NYC proposal would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana instead of relying solely on pills, oils, patches and tinctures.
The group is currently attempting to rally support for the bill. Councilman Corey Johnson, whose district included Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and the West Village, reportedly plans to sponsor the measure, but his office has not offered any insight into how they will proceed.
If the group is able to change the medical marijuana program in New York City, they plan to submit their concept to lawmakers higher on the legislative food chain in order to make changes to the program at the state level.