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ALBANY - Some patient advocates said Wednesday that New York’s new regulations to dispense medical marijuana beginning in January are too restrictive and will keep sufferers from the full benefit of the therapy.
The rules released late Tuesday mirror the restrictive law passed last year despite a robust public comment period. Patient advocates and supporters of legalizing marijuana sought to make the drug available to more people. The law will make marijuana available to people suffering specific maladies including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal injuries, cancer and HIV/AIDS which are believed to be helped by marijuana therapy.
Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) on Wednesday said the law’s restrictions show “unjustified hostility.”
“The proposed regulations would deprive seriously ill patients of relief,” he said. “One might wonder if the regulations were designed to prevent the system from operating at all.”
But state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) urged patience as the state tries to create a new industry all within the 18 months required by the law she sponsored.
“I would like people to keep in mind that when you look at states that have adopted medical marijuana, the average wait time from legislation passing to the first sale is 25 months,” she said. She said she wants the program to serve more people, but the department’s responses to the public comments indicate that will be considered as demand grows.