New York’s medical marijuana program is on track to become one of the most restrictive in the nation.
According to The New York Times, the state’s health department will soon issue its final regulations, and with over 100 pages of “painfully precise” rules, the new guidelines are bound to create numerous headaches for patients and dispensary owners. Just don’t expect a medical card to cure them.
Under the law, only 10 conditions qualify for medical marijuana use (think cancer and ALS, not headaches and insomnia) and only 20 dispensaries, run by five companies, will be established throughout the state. Fusion calculates that these limitations will mean one dispensary per million residents. For the thousands to hundreds of thousands expected to qualify, no smoking will be allowed.
Those guidelines may seem intense compared to those of other established medical marijuana programs throughout the U.S, but, in fact, the new rules go even further.
“The regulations also impose constraints in unexpected ways,” The New York Times reported. “A plumber may not be able to unclog a sink in a dispensary without prior written approval. Drinking a Coke or even milk on the premises could be a violation.”
Medical marijuana advocates argue that such a restrictive program will prevent potential patients from accessing medication.
Councilmember Mark Levin argued on Tuesday that the program is too small to make a difference in the lives of New York residents.
“In a state with an estimated 83 percent of voters in support of medicinal marijuana, we can do better,” Levin said in a statement. “The time to act is now to make important yet simple fixes to the Compassionate Care Act, which would not only make it a better law but also help fulfill its ultimate goal of comforting people in pain at a time when they need it most.”
While proponents hope that the rules will be refined before the law is implemented in 2016, not everyone is convinced.
“We’re not holding our breath,” Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Times.