Medical Marijuana Right for New York, Say ASOs
New York AIDS Service Organizations applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposals to provide support for people living with HIV/AIDS, including access to medical marijuana. During his January State of the State Address, Cuomo included several proposals to help reduce HIV infections and support PLWHAs, including $100 million in new funding for affordable housing, tax credits for lower and middle-income renters, and advocating for the Women’s Equality Act.
"We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership on initiatives that address disparities in access to safe and affordable housing and employment, and that fight discrimination against women. All are among the most devastating drivers of the HIV epidemic," said GMHC’s Interim CEO Janet Weinberg. "We also appreciate that Governor Cuomo now supports access to medical marijuana. [His] medical marijuana research program is an important first step in alleviating the pain and suffering of so many New Yorkers. However, we still need comprehensive legislative reform to ensure broad access to safe and effective medical marijuana."
GMHC Board Member Frank Spinelli, MD, a physician specializing in HIV, advised caution in moving in this direction.
"I applaud Governor Cuomo’s initiative to bypass the blockade in the State Senate against the Compassionate Care Act," said Spinelli. "As a physician, however, I have a few questions about the details released about his research program, including how and where my patients will be able to access medical marijuana and how we can ensure that it is safe and effective."
The president of the New York State Psychological Association also applauded the Assembly Health Committee for passing the Compassionate Care Act (A.6357-A, Gottfried/S.4406-A, Savino), saying that he and his colleagues alike supported the bill.
And on Feb. 3, the state’s top health official Nirav Shah testified as part of a legislative budget hearing that he would like to begin using Cuomo’s plan to use the little-known 1980 Olivieri Law to allow a limited number of hospitals (20) to prescribe marijuana to chronically ill patients, within the year.