Governor Andrew Cuomo is being urged to sign a bill that would expand eligibility for the state's medical marijuana program to include patients undergoing treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The state Senate and Assembly have both approved it. The question is when it may arrive on Governor Cuomo’s desk. It will be one among hundreds of pieces of legislation that the governor must read and review before deciding whether to make them laws.
"We passed over 500 bills in both the Assembly and the Senate. Those have to be delivered. He can't get them all at once or he'd be there all day long signing or vetoing bills," said Assemblyman Ray Walter. "In its own time it will get there and he'll have an opportunity to sign it. I hope that he does."
Governor Cuomo was asked during his appearance in Niagara County last week whether he'd sign it. He called the program important and said it has "been working very well," but he would first consult with experts before making his decision.
"We want to make sure medical marijuana is medical marijuana, so we're careful about what diseases it covers," Cuomo said. "I haven't seen that bill. I'll look at the bill, talk to experts and make a decision."
The Governor, upon receiving the bill, would have ten days to veto if he desires.
The state’s medical marijuana program currently allows doctors to prescribe the medication to cover 11 conditions including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, HIV and AIDS and chronic pain. Walter believes patients of PTSD are just as deserving of relief.
"It's not just the physical but also the mental and emotional conditions that can be helped with medical marijuana," Walter said. "There are so many studies out there that show many of the good benefits that it can provide. To be denying folks this opportunity is just not the way we should be doing it in New York State."
Walter added that by expanding the medical marijuana program, more physicians could get involved and, in turn, the overall program may improve.