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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs Emergency Access Bill

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, signed legislation on Wednesday that would give qualified patients access to medical marijuana two months before the planned rollout of the statewide program.  One day after protests outside of Gov. Cuomo’s office, Cuomo signed the two bills that would establish an “emergency medical marijuana” program.

State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the bill, said the law will provide access to patients for whom a delay to medical marijuana would pose a serious risk to the person’s life or health. “Gov. Cuomo has done a very good deed for seriously ill patients and their families.”

State health officials would be required to establish a new certification process and to “create an expedited pathway” for  qualified patients whose lack of access to the drug “would pose a serious risk” to their lives.

In a statement accompanying his signatures Cuomo said, “By taking this necessary step, I am ensuring the new program will not jeopardize the continued viability of the state’s existing marijuana program,” “I deeply sympathize with New Yorkers suffering from serious illness, and I appreciate that medical marijuana may alleviate their chronic pain and debilitating symptoms.”

Julie Netherland of The Drug Policy Alliance, who supported Gottfried’s bill said the next step is getting the drug into the hands of patients in need.

“We’re heartened that Governor Andrew Cuomo did the right thing and signed this emergency bill,” said Julie Netherland, New York deputy state director at the Drug Policy Alliance. “Patients in New York are suffering, and some patients’ lives are at risk every day they are forced to wait. There’s no real victory until critically ill patients get their medicine.”

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