ALBANY — Influential lawmakers are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve an enlargement of the state’s medical marijuana program in order that sufferers do not find yourself shopping for weed on the black market.
Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, D-Manhattan, the chairman of the Meeting Well being Committee, mentioned the Cuomo administration has been “shifting a lot too slowly” in addressing wanted enhancements to New York’s 7-year-old medical marijuana program.
The regulatory adjustments being proposed by Gottfried; Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, the chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee; and Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, don’t require additional legislative motion and may very well be carried out by state Well being Commissioner Howard Zucker, a Cuomo appointee.
The legislators contend sufferers approved by docs for participation within the medical marijuana program ought to have the ability to purchase pot in entire flower kind. The medical dispensaries arrange in numerous places throughout the state have been accepted for stocking marijuana merchandise that may be ingested or utilized in a tincture, although they want state approval earlier than they will supply pot in a kind that may be smoked.
The non-smokeable merchandise “stay cost-prohibitive and out of attain — notably for lower-income members of minority communities, who may in any other case be eligible for this system,” the lawmakers mentioned in a letter to Cuomo.
The lawmakers additionally need Cuomo to permit physicians “extra medical discretion in certifying sufferers for medical hashish,” in line with their letter.
“As New Yorkers proceed to cope with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, there shall be 1000’s of residents who want ache aid and remedy for a wide range of situations, diseases and illnesses,” they wrote.
Lastly, whereas current laws permits licensed marijuana sufferers to get a 60-day provide of hashish, up from a 30-day restrict, the laws wanted to permit for the elevated provide haven’t been enforce, they famous.
Cuomo press aides didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the lawmakers’ plea for the governor to take motion.
On a associated entrance, Gottfried, in an interview, mentioned he’s involved the state has but to put in management on the new Workplace of Hashish Administration and the Hashish Management Board.
With New Yorkers now in a position to possess as much as three ounces of marijuana legally, Gottfried mentioned he’s involved the illicit weed market might collect steam, finally making it tougher for licensed purveyors of marijuana to function efficiently.
However it’s doubtless that will probably be a minimum of one other yr earlier than licensed outlets providing adult-use pot open in New York, mentioned Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, a co-sponsor of the brand new marijuana laws.
“The truth that the regulatory our bodies haven’t but been absolutely empaneled I do not assume will push again the clock” on placing these dispensaries into operation, Cahill mentioned.
Current staffers within the administration will have the ability to provoke the groundwork for constructing the oversight paperwork and can hand off their work to the brand new appointees when they’re put in, the assemblyman mentioned.
The state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, signed into legislation March 31, offers native governments till Dec. 31 to take themselves out of the combination of communities the place marijuana outlets could be opened.
Some municipalities have already signaled that they are going to permit retail hashish outlets, although many are anticipated to declare their communities off-limits.
Cuomo mentioned in March that permitting the sale of leisure marijuana in New York was one in every of his prime priorities this yr.
“I am proud these complete reforms handle and stability the social fairness, security and financial impacts of authorized adult-use hashish,” mentioned Cuomo.
The governor had opposed legalizing hashish as not too long ago as 2017, branding marijuana a “gateway drug.”
Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and web sites. Attain him at firstname.lastname@example.org.