Final regulations for New York’s medical marijuana program have been released by the New York State Department of Health (DOH). The announcement followed much public backlash in which potential patients, health experts, and industry professionals submitted over a thousand letters and emails critiquing the proposed regulations for being overly restrictive.
The Department of Health made no major changes to the regulations, even after the vast input from the public. Instead, the DOH made only handful of minor fixes, such as correcting typos.
The medical marijuana law, which narrowly passed, gave the Health Commissioner the authority to make changes to the program. Unfortunately, the final regulations clearly show that the Commissioner did not use his authority to expand the program and that the Governor’s administration intends to make the program as restrictive as possible.
For instance, advocates asked for a clear and transparent process for how qualifying medical conditions for marijuana, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), will be addressed, but the final regulations reveal no mention of any additional qualifying conditions; it only says that the Commissioner may issue guidance on this issue at a later date.
“As a veteran, I am dismayed that the final regulations fail to include PTSD, which so many of my fellow soldiers suffer from on a daily basis,” said a member of Veterans for Peace. “PTSD is covered in a least nine other states with medical marijuana laws, and given the strong scientific evidence that cannabis can help those with PTSD, people suffering from it [in] New York should also have access. I find it even more upsetting that there is still no transparency or explanation for how PTSD — or any other medical condition for that matter — will be added or excluded from the program in the future.”
A spokesperson from the Drug Policy Alliance stated that “It’s baffling and downright unacceptable for Governor Cuomo to ignore both the science on medical marijuana and the evidence on medical marijuana programs” and “Since Cuomo is abandoning patients and families in need in pursuit of a war on drugs approach, we have no choice but to return to the legislature to fix New York’s medical marijuana program.”