By Whoopi Goldberg, The Cannabist Staff
We did this, New York.
With the recent passing of medical marijuana legislation in my home state, the empire state of mind will soon be more elevated and compassionate than ever before — with legal medical cannabis in Manhattan, Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Mike Groll, Associated Press file)
While I’m thrilled for my fellow New Yorkers who will be able to seek treatment via marijuana when N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan goes into action sometime in 2016, I’m sorry to say the governor’s plan doesn’t include conditions like glaucoma, migraines or severe menstrual disorders — very real issues for people who suffer from them, myself included (glaucoma). However, the great news is that under Cuomo’s plan, approved by the New York Legislature in late July, doctors will be able to prescribe marijuana for at least 10 diseases and conditions — including cancer, epilepsy, AIDS, neuropathy, ALS and other degenerative diseases. The state’s health department will direct the program, and the health commissioner can choose to include more illnesses.
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I’ve written here before that medical marijuana helps me (and thousands like me) live comfortably with uncomfortable conditions, and I’m hoping that eventually Gov. Cuomo and his advisers will widen the range of conditions that medical marijuana should and can cover.
Again, to be clear, I am so happy that Gov. Cuomo covered as many conditions as he has, and a lot of people living with these conditions will benefit tremendously from marijuana as medicine, and I’m so grateful for that — as I’m sure they are, too. The opening of this door by Gov. Cuomo means that they’re recognizing there’s a different pharmacy in the world — one that is natural and better for your system and better for your health.
Huge, huge news.
But I will say I would have loved to have had a conversation with the governor and his staff. I probably would have asked, “Did y’all talk to a whole lot of patients? How did you come up with the list of conditions? And did you talk to any of the other governors about what affect medical marijuana has had on patients?”
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I’d also tell him, “There are so many people this could help — and while a lot of people think others are champing at the bit to go out and party with medical marijuana, that’s just not the case. People are desperate — really desperate — for the medication that helps them. And as we have seen, if we can’t get it with your help here in New York, we end up having to go to other states. Also, in my opinion, which you did not ask for — but hey, it’s my sounding board, so what the hell — the proposed system where the state controls all legal delivery methods seems a bit restrictive.”
New York medical dispensaries will only sell tinctures, edibles and oils for vaporizing. I still think vaporizing is the best delivery method for medical cannabis, and I appreciate that he’s making an anti-smoking statement by not selling the actual marijuana bud. But it feels like he’s limiting people’s ability to deal with their illness in a way that works for them. I’m not sure that’s the best way to go about it because I think people should be able to decide how they want to ingest their medical marijuana. It would be better to let the doctors and patients determine what works best for them individually.
Just as the regulations and rules surrounding the recreational marijuana systems in Colorado and Washington are ongoing, fluid conversations, hopefully the same will happen here.
I look to New York’s future and the rest of the nation’s future — where marijuana is a legitimate medicine and a brand-new industry that takes root in our cities and rural communities. Where farmers and gardeners, tending and nurturing stalks of sativa and aisles of indica, will grow cannabis for those in medical need. Where doctors and budtenders, guiding their patients through a new world of medicine, will work with them by tracking progress, altering dosages and keeping watch. Where scientists will test these THC-infused oils and edibles for contaminants and consistency, helping patients with professionally regularized doses to treat their conditions accurately.
Those are important and very noble jobs — and careers we should be excited about, professions we should want to claim on our résumés.
As a patient not yet covered, I will wait — with hopes that my condition, and the others not yet recognized by the state of New York can one day, very soon, legitimately and legally be serviced by cannabis, and included in New York’s medical marijuana laws.
A big hug to Gov. Cuomo.
Catch up on New York’s road to legal medical marijuana.
Jan. 4, 2014: New York set to allow limited use of medical marijuana
June 3, 2014: Clinical trials for marijuana seizure treatment ahead in N.Y.
June 17, 2014: N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo rejects newly amended medical marijuana bill
June 17, 2014: Here’s what singer Melissa Etheridge said to N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
June 18, 2014: N.Y. cannabis advocates rally at state Capitol, rail against Gov. Cuomo
June 19, 2014: New York Assembly approves medical marijuana bill
In 2002, Whoopi Goldberg became one of a very elite group of artists who have won the Grammy (“Whoopi Goldberg,” 1985), the Academy Award (“Ghost,” 1991), the Golden Globe (“The Color Purple,” 1985 and “Ghost,” 1991), the Emmy (as…
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