WNY families relieved by passage of medical marijuana bill

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – When the final vote was cast Friday in the State Senate, paving the way for medical marijuana in New York State, Orchard Park mother Wendy Conte joined dozens of others who literally jumped for joy.

RELATED | Read more about the passage of the legislation here

“Thrilled, excited, relieved. I mean, there’s medicine coming for my daughter and others like her and it’s been a long hard battle,” she said.

Twenty-two other states and the District of Columbia have already passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana. Here is a complete list:

  • Alaska, passed in 1998
  • Arizona, passed in 2010
  • California, passed in 1996
  • Colorado, passed in 2000
  • Connecticut, passed in 2012
  • DC, passed in 2010
  • Delaware, passed in 2011
  • Hawaii, passed in 2000
  • Illinois, passed in 2013
  • Maine, passed in 1999
  • Maryland, passed in 2014
  • Massachusetts, passed in 2012
  • Michigan, passed in 2008
  • Minnesota, passed in 2014
  • Montana, passed in 2004
  • Nevada, passed in 2000
  • New Hampshire, passed in 2013
  • New Jersey, passed in 2010
  • New Mexico, passed in 2007
  • Oregon, passed in 1998
  • Rhode Island, passed in 2006
  • Vermont, passed in 2004
  • Washington, passed in 1998

Conte’s 9-year-old daughter Anna suffers from a form of epilepsy. Her doctors say medical marijuana could nearly eliminate her seizures.

Without access in New York, her family was preparing to move to Colorado, but it’s a move they now hope they won’t have to make.

“I did not want to have to pack up my daughter, separate my family, my husband sell his business and say goodbye to my family and move across the country,” she explained.

The Wertman family already made that difficult choice for their son Joey. They moved to Arizona several months ago.

Joe Wertman said, “I left my job. I was a nurse at Buffalo Mercy Hospital; I loved it there. I missed my family. My grandpa just passed away. Unfortunately we were unable to take our son there, we were here, but I have to say it was the best decision we have ever made in our lives.”

Joey, who is now 14-months-old, has been thriving using the oil form of medical marijuana.

“He’s so happy doing things he was never able to do before. He could only roll over. Now he’s starting to sit up more and hold toys in his hands and those are things that we never thought were possible,” said Wertman.

However, their homecoming will have to wait; it will be 18 months before the law is implemented and it could be even longer before dispensaries are in place.

Conte says that’s the next part of their fight.

She explained, “You’re talking about the plants being grown harvested produced, you’re looking at probably almost two years, but we are going to try and push it for immediate access for these children who cannot wait two years.”

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