BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – News 4 has learned Governor Andrew Cuomo will send a letter to the State Department of Health, directing administrators to explore ways to implement the Compassionate Care Act, for children with epilepsy, as soon as possible.
In his letter, Cuomo cites two recent deaths of children with epilepsy, who would have benefited from the use of medical marijuana. Anna Conte died on July 17, 2014. The 9-year-old suffered from a form of epilepsy. Her doctors had said medical marijuana could nearly eliminate her seizures. Olivia Marie Newton was 3-years-old when she died.
“When I received this letter this morning, I was actually picking up my daughter’s ashes,” Wendy Conte said.
Her daughter, Anna, died waiting for a chance to use medical marijuana, in oil form.
She’s angry the Governor waited weeks to send this letter, asking the Department of Health to fast track the implementation of the Compassionate Care Act for children with epilepsy.
Anna had been suffering for years, before her death.
“It’s a little too late for Anna, but Anna’s death is not going to go in vain. We’re still going to fight for this fast tracking for these children in New York, they deserve this medication, they deserve it today,” Conte said.
The implementation of the recently passed Compassionate Care Act was scheduled to take a year and a half. With this new advice from the governor, Cuomo is calling on the Department of Health to accelerate the process for this group of people.
Cuomo’s letter says in part, “Families with children struggling from epilepsy have fought for years for the passage of the Compassionate Care Act. Now that it is finally law, the children struggling with this condition deserve every consideration we can make that could potentially ease their pain and suffering.”
Smoking medical pot isn’t allowed under the law; it will only be available in other forms, such as creams. Every legal sale would be taxed seven percent. Health insurers wouldn’t be required to provide coverage.
It would be prescribed for serious conditions like cancer, HIV/ AIDS, Parkinson’s, MS, nervous system damage or as added by the Department of Health.
State Senator Mark Grisanti believes with the Governor’s letter, we should start to see some movement.
“We actually have a facility and an organization that can grow this quite quickly. This is something I think can be done probably in a nine month time period, rather than 18 months, and that’s strictly for the oil,” Grisanti said.
When the Governor signed the bill into law earlier this month, he allowed 18 months for the Compassionate Care Act to be implemented.