18-month wait for medical marijuana worries local cancer survivor

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Updated: 7/07 10:49 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – A local woman is worried about the waiting period for medical marijuana after Governor Andrew Cuomo held a ceremonial signing for the bill Monday.

Much of the legislative session this year was debating how and if New York would pass the Compassionate Care Act, but Cuomo signed the bill over the weekend making medical marijuana in New York a reality.

Troy resident Nancy Rivera was in New York City to witness the ceremonial signing.

“It’s a little hard to believe that it’s happening,” she said. “But some of the stuff, the way it turned out, the way it was rewritten is also hard to believe.”

Rivera has survived cancer four times. She said that after losing 40 pounds, she knows first-hand how the drug can be used in medical settings.

“It would have helped me because I had a lot of pain from the chemotherapy and radiation,” she said. “I suffered from a lot of dehydration.”

Cuomo signed the bill July 5, but held a ceremony in East Harlem on Monday to celebrate the passage of the legislation.

“Legislation I feel confident gets us the best medical marijuana has to offer,” he said.

Cuomo said the state assembly first passed medical marijuana in 2005, but it has taken until 2014 to get certain guidelines for implementation right. This puts a lot of pressure on the New York State Health Department to regulate the five organizations that will be producing marijuana in the state.

“We are here to help people, and if there is an advancement, then we want to make sure we are bringing it to New Yorkers,” he continued.

However, it will take 18 months to implement medical marijuana in the state. Rivera said she is worried about what may happen by implementing medical marijuana so late.

“We’re hoping it takes less than that because people are seizing and in the hospital and in drug induced comas because of their seizures,” she explained. “Might not have 18 months.”

Cuomo stressed the 18-month implementation is to ensure the state has time to issue the drug properly. He wants to ensure patients get the help they need, and that penalties will be in place for those who try to abuse the system.

New York is the twenty-third state to allow some patients access to the drug.

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