In a letter sent to Acting New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on July 30, Gov. Andrew Cuomo requested that the planned 18-month implementation timeline for medical marijuana be reviewed for possible acceleration to help those who suffer from severe seizures brought on by epilepsy.
“Families with children struggling from epilepsy have fought for years for the passage of the Compassionate Care Act,” Cuomo wrote. “Now that it is finally law, the children struggling with this condition deserve every consideration we can make that could potentially ease their pain and suffering.”
After the state Assembly had passed the legislation on May 27, the State Senate approved it on June 20. It was signed into law on July 5. The law would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana in specific forms, such as oil-based and vapor, to people with any of 10 conditions, including AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, ALS (known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and multiple sclerosis. New York joined 22 other states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The issue hits home for Atlantic Beach resident Missy Miller, an ardent advocate for medical marijuana. She believes it will help reduce the number of seizures her 14-year-old son Oliver has daily. He suffers up to 100 on a given day. Oliver suffered a pre-birth stroke that caused blindness and developmental delays.
Miller and other parents met with state officials on Monday. She said that the officials did not reveal an accelerated timeframe. According to Miller, officials said they want to ensure the system they put in place is successful and follows the required regulations. “They said they were looking into several different things, and as of yet had no [new] information,” Miller said. “They did agree to continue to meet with us and welcomed our input.”
The parents, including Miller, asked specific questions about expedited access, she said, but no answers were forthcoming. “Expedited obviously has a very different meaning to them than it does to a parent watching their child seize away each day, and with each seizure getting farther and farther away from themselves.”