Sue Nill Kidera of Pittsford is hoping to be able to use medical marijuana to ease the nausea associated with treating her colon cancer.(Photo: Jamie Germano/@jgermano1/ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
ALBANY – The 10-year-old girl stood smiling at the governor’s side as he signed a medical marijuana bill into law last July.
Amanda Houser was so excited for the event, her mother said, her health problems — a rare form of epilepsy — were nearly forgotten for the day. And the photo from the New York City event of Amanda next to Gov. Andrew Cuomo is one of the more memorable images from his time in office.
But the good feelings from the event have gradually subsided, and ill patients are increasingly frustrated that, nearly a year later, they still can’t access medical marijuana in New York.
“She really shined that day, knowing that she might get the medicine,” Amanda’s mother, Maryanne, of Suffern, Rockland County, said. “She asks: ‘When am I going to get it?’ She’s tired of being different from the other kids.”
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As New York nears awarding licenses to the companies who will grow and distribute the medical marijuana, critics are concerned the system won’t be in place by the state’s expected Jan. 1 target. They are also questioning how readily available the drug will be throughout the state.
The answers to those concerns and questions will affect the fortunes of at least three Rochester-area businesses, a local university’s research plans and the quality of life of a variety of local patients who are coping with serious illnesses.
In the meantime, some state lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — are pressing for a bill to allow for emergency access to the drug for patients with most urgent needs, such as children with severe epilepsy. They are seeking to have the bill passed before the legislative session ends June 17.
After the law was approved a year ago, it started an 18-month clock for the state Health Department to have the program underway. This is not recreational marijuana like that available in Colorado. The drug would only be available in non-smokeable forms, such as pills, oils and vapors.
“My biggest concern right now is how long it’s going to take for the children with epilepsy and other people with real life-threatening conditions to get any medication,” said …Read More