New York Poised to Become 27th State to Provide PTSD Patients With Access to Medical Marijuana
The bipartisan proposal is headed to the governor’s desk after passing 50-13 in the Senate on Tuesday; it received overwhelming approval in the Assembly last month
A bipartisan proposal to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for New York’s medical marijuana program has received final approval from state lawmakers and is headed to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The GOP-controlled Senate passed S 5629 on Tuesday (50-13), and the Assembly version, A 7006, received overwhelming approval in May (131-8).“Patients in New York State should have the option to try what works for them,” Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), the bill’s sponsor, told the The Daily News.
“I think it is time that we start taking care of the people that have PTSD,” Bob Becker, legislative chairman of the State Council of Veterans Organizations, said earlier this month.“State lawmakers are standing up for thousands of New Yorkers who are suffering from PTSD and might benefit from medical marijuana,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
“We hope Gov. Cuomo will do the same and sign this important legislation,” Bell said. “With a single swipe of his pen, he can help countless people find relief.”“Military veterans, first responders, and victims who have survived assault all deserve society’s respect and the best available treatments; they should not have to abandon their homes and move to another state in order to seek access to medical marijuana,” said Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. “This is compassionate and commonsense legislation that is widely supported by the public as well as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.”
Twenty-six of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs allow patients with PTSD to qualify. In one of the states that do not, Alaska, marijuana is legal and regulated for adults 21 and older. Bills to add PTSD to state medical marijuana programs have been approved and signed into law in Colorado and Vermont this year. Legislation to add PTSD has also been approved in both chambers of the New Hampshire Legislature and is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.
“In the past year, 11 more states have approved allowing trauma survivors to use cannabis for PTSD. Now only three medical cannabis states exclude PTSD patients,” Bell said. “Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and his colleagues should be commended for addressing the needs of New York residents who are dealing with this terrible condition, including our veterans. By signing this legislation, Gov. Cuomo can ensure New Yorkers don’t get left behind.”S. 5629 was introduced by Sen. Savino with a bipartisan coalition of seven co-sponsors, including Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who previously opposed medical marijuana legislation. A. 7006 was introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried (D-Manhattan) with a bipartisan coalition of more than three dozen co-sponsors.
“We are grateful to Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried for their leadership on this bill and other medical marijuana issues,” Bell said.
U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said earlier this month that medical marijuana could help veterans and suggested the VA will look into studying what effects medical marijuana is having on veterans in states where it’s legal.