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Cuomo open to allowing medical marijuana for PTSD

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo indicated Wednesday he’s open to allowing medical marijuana to be prescribed to sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder, providing a boost for activists and legislators who are seeking to broaden the state’s program.

“We are considering a number of possible illnesses that would be added to the eligibility for medical marijuana. So we’re in the midst of that now and we’ll look at the PTSD bill,” Cuomo, who originally opposed legalizing medical marijuana, told reporters. It was the governor’s first comment on the bill, though the state Health Department previously said it was studying the proposal.

A day earlier, the state Assembly overwhelming approved a bill to add PTSD to the short list of illnesses eligible for treatment under New York’s medical marijuana law. The proposal won bipartisan support, with Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) saying it would provide an “important step,” especially in aiding “veterans who have sacrificed and suffered to protect our freedom [who] often cope with the adversity of PTSD long after their military service has ended.”

Assemb. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), the longtime leading proponent of the measure, noted that 24 of the 39 states that allow medical marijuana have authorized its use for PTSD.

Approval was expected in the Democratic-led chamber. It faces more uncertainty in the Republican-led Senate, where it is currently being held in the Health Committee.

New York approved the use of medical marijuana in 2014, authorizing its use in connection with about 10 diseases and syndromes. Cuomo at first opposed the idea of legalizing medical marijuana, but agreed to a compromise bill that gives him power to end it under certain conditions.

Advocates, while applauding the launch, said the state’s law too harshly restricted prescribed uses and distribution sites. They’ve been campaigning since to expand it. Last year, the Cuomo administration added chronic pain to the list of eligible conditions and approved a proposal to allow nurse practitioners to administer the drug.

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