ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB)- With the stroke of a pen Monday afternoon Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that puts the New York State Health Department in charge of licensing five organizations that will be allowed to produce medical marijuana, and be in charge of setting up dispensaries for those who qualify.
Amanda Houser suffers from incurable epilepsy, but wouldn’t have as many seizures on the drug.
“Her condition dictates where we go, and what we can do.” said Amanda’s mother, Maryanne Houser. “It makes us feel powerless because we never know when the next seizure might strike or how bad it will be. Medical marijuana offers us this chance to beat that.”
“There is no doubt that medical marijuana can help people.” said Governor Cuomo. “There’s a whole lot of history and data and research just on that topic.”
Dr Laszlo Mechtler is director at the DENT Neurologic Institute. He believes this might be the right prescription for some, but not for most.
“I don’t think this is for the masses.” said Dr. Mechtler. “We have to be cautious because the FDA has not approved this drug, so whatever complication you may have, you’re using it without an FDA indication, so physicians will be cautious and I think not all physicians will be prescribing medical marijuana.”
When the State Senate approved it two weeks ago, cheers broke out from the families of children with epilepsy. In some cases patients have gone from having hundreds of seizures per day to only a few when taking medical marijuana.
But the long term effects are still unclear. “There’s a lot of controversey about what are the long term effects of marijuana. What we do now, we have permission to do research. It’s out there, we can use it. Research studies have to be done and after that we can have better indications of who and when to use it.”
Smoking Medical Marijuana will not be allowed in NY. It will be creams or oils taken with a meal. The Governor says doctors who abuse the system could face felonies.
The Breast Cancer Network of Western New York co-president Sharon Faruci says it’s not perfect. “It’s not moving us forward as quickly as we had hoped and the guidelines he’s put into place are extremely stringent, so we’re still at a stop gap, but it is a step forward.”
It may take up to eighteen months before medical marijuana is fully available to patients. Health insurers will not be required to cover the cost. This program is meant to last about seven years, but the Governor can suspend it at any time.