BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Nathan Nocera of Niagara Falls spends most of his day by his daughter’s bedside at Women and Children’s Hospital, and strongly believes medical marijuana could relieve much of her suffering.
State lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year, the Compassionate Care Act, which would allow the legal use of medical marijuana, and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the measure on July 7.
But because the new law puts tight controls on medical marijuana, state officials say legal pot for medicinal use might not be available for about 18 months.
“We can’t wait 18 months. That is too long. We don’t even know if we have 18 days,” said Nocero, as he talked with News 4 outside of Women and Children’s Hospital.
Nocera knows medical marijuana can help his 8-year-old daughter Donella, a lively, precocious little girl until she was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, 10 months ago.
Why is Nocera so sure marijuana can help?
“Donnie,” as they call her, has received secret dosages of cannabis oil – a marijuana derivative – much to the chagrin of medical staff at the hospital. They have made their position abundantly clear to Nocera.
“They came in and told me, in a group of doctors, if I kept on giving it to her, that I would go to jail.”
When Governor Andrew Cuomo signed medical marijuana into law, it was a milestone for many seriously ill patients in New York and their families. But the waiting period has turned out to be too long for other patients, such as 9-year-old Anna Conte of Orchard Park, who died from a seizure, shortly after the governor signed the new law.
“Anna’s death is not going to go in vain. We are still going to fight for this fast-tracking for these children in New York. They deserve this medication, they deserve it today,” said Wendy Conte, Anna’s mother.
How well does the cannabis oil work for “Donnie”? Nocero said it relieves her pain, and it seems to slow down the growth of her tumor.
Nocero explained, “The cannabis oil also helps combat the tumor. It doesn’t let cells divide.” He adds the oil “could help keep the tumor at bay. Whereas we are not doing anything for it right now, so it is getting bigger.”
Growing pressure from patients and their families has prompted Governor Cuomo to urge state health officials to pick up the pace, in a letter on July 31, which could pave the way for legalizing marijuana sooner.
The governor explained, “If it can be accelerated safely, of course we will do that. But the balance is, give people the help they need, but do it safely.”
Governor Cuomo’s efforts to expedite the use of medical marijuana seems to be aimed at epilepsy, and treatment of epileptic seizures, which were fatal to Anna Conte and another girl from Western New York.
But Nocera says Donnie has also experienced seizures, and the cannabis oil provided relief for that, too.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.