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Governor signs bill to establish comprehensive medical marijuana program

ALBANY – A bill to establish a medical marijuana program for New York State was signed into law on Monday by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The new law includes provisions to ensure medical marijuana is reserved only for patients with serious conditions and is dispensed and administered in a manner that protects public health and safety.

“This new law takes an important step toward bringing relief to patients living with extraordinary pain and illness,” Governor Cuomo said. “The legislation I am signing today strikes the right balance between our desire to give those suffering from serious diseases access to treatment, and our obligation to guard against threats to public health and safety. I applaud the lawmakers and advocates whose efforts over the past years were crucial in making medical marijuana a reality in New York State.”

To ensure medical marijuana is available only to patients with serious conditions who can most benefit from the treatment, the law establishes a certification and registry process for physicians to administer the drug.

To be prescribed medical marijuana, a patient must receive a certification from a licensed practitioner who must register with the Department of Health and be qualified to treat the serious condition for which the patient is seeking treatment. The serious conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed are cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication on intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s Disease, or as added by the DOH commissioner.

To ensure medical marijuana is in the hands of only individuals in need and their health care provider, Registry Identification Cards will be issued by DOH to certified patients. The card will contain any recommendation or limitation on form or dosage imposed by the practitioner as well as other information. The Department will be able to suspend or revoke the card of a patient who willfully violates any provision of the new law.

Health insurers will not be required to provide coverage for medical marijuana.