News / Health

New York Medical Marijuana Law Excludes Some Seeking the Drug

Missy Miller sits with her epileptic son, Oliver (R), in their home near Atlantic Beach, New York, Jan. 7, 2014.
Missy Miller sits with her epileptic son, Oliver (R), in their home near Atlantic Beach, New York, Jan. 7, 2014.
Reuters
When New York moves ahead with its planned legalization of medical marijuana for the chronically ill, Missy Miller's epileptic son Oliver will be left behind.
 
Oliver suffered a brain stem injury in utero and now, at 14, has hundreds of seizures a day. For months, his family has pinned their hopes on a strain of marijuana developed in Colorado that has helped children with similar conditions.
 
But under an executive order by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday making New York the 21st state to allow medical marijuana, it will remain illegal to grow marijuana or to import specialized plants from other states. The order limits the number of hospitals that can dispense marijuana and allows its use only to treat diseases such as cancer and glaucoma, according to several people briefed on the plan.
 
Patients will have little say in the marijuana they are prescribed and people like Oliver - who could benefit from a specialized strain known as Charlotte's Web that is high in the compound cannabidiol, or CBD, - would be cut out entirely.
 
“With this one medication, it's stopping their seizures or dramatically reducing their seizures,” said Miller, 49, as her son lay in a playpen in their home near Atlantic Beach, east of New York City.
 
Caveat

While anecdotal evidence gives reasons for patients to be encouraged by the use of the strain, doctors urge caution.
 
Orrin Devinsky, an epilepsy expert at New York University who has treated Oliver, said data about the safety and effectiveness of “Charlotte's Web” is scant.
 
“In medicine, the roadside is littered with drugs and compounds and plants that people have sworn by,” said Devinsky, who is preparing a clinical trial using a nearly pure form of CBD. “The available data right now in humans is anecdotal - single cases where there could be a tremendous amount of bias in the results.”
 
Cuomo's announcement comes one week after Colorado began allowing the sale of marijuana for recreational use. A second state, Washington, will follow suit later this year.
 
The move is an about-face for Cuomo, who previously opposed marijuana legalization, but the Democrat has not come under the same pressure as his counterpart in neighboring New Jersey.
 
There, Governor Chris Christie in September signed a bill loosening rules on medical marijuana access for sick children. Dubbed “pot for tots,” by tabloids, Christie approved it one month after he was confronted by the parents of a two-year-old girl who suffers from a form of epilepsy.
 
The family has since said they will move to Colorado where marijuana is sold in edible form, while in New Jersey it may only be sold in smokable form.
 
Medical marijuana has long faced an uphill battle in New York state.
 
'Limited' move
 
The Compassionate Care Act, which provides for medical marijuana, has come up repeatedly in the state legislature since 1997, and has been approved by the state assembly four times. But it has never made it to a vote in the State Senate.
 
State Assemblymen Richard Gottfried, a leading proponent of medical marijuana, called Cuomo's order a “key interim step.” He said he planned to introduce a more comprehensive measure.
 
“The law is very limited and cumbersome and will leave out a lot of people,” said Gottfried.
 
The Charlotte's Web strain of marijuana, which the Millers have placed such hope in, comes from a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado Springs called Indispensary.
 
The product, which comes as an oil, is low in THC, the psychoactive compound that gives users the feeling of being high, and has close to no value to traditional marijuana consumers. But others tout the medicinal value of CBD.
 
A Gallup poll in October found, for the first time, a clear majority of Americans - 58 percent - favor legalizing marijuana, while 38 percent of Americans admitted they had tried the drug. A Siena College poll in May found that 82 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing medical marijuana.
 
Potential
 
On Tuesday, on the eve of Cuomo's announcement, Miller led Oliver through their home from his playpen - a cheerfully decorated space under a row of enlarged family portraits - across the living room.
 
Standing at 1.3 meters (4 feet 5 inches) with bouncy curls that fall almost to his shoulders, Oliver is about as tall as his mother, who struggled to help him stand upright. At one point, Oliver froze up and Miller explained he was having a seizure.
 
“All done,” the boy said a moment later, and they continued.
 
“Oliver has a lot of other medical problems, and we've been very successful at overcoming” many of them, said Miller. “The one thing we haven't been able to get any control over are these seizures. And, in spite of all these other medical problems, these are stealing him from us.”
 
Miller, who has a healthy 19-year-old daughter, learned the extent of Oliver's health issues when he was a few weeks old. She had already lost one child, at the age of 7, and took multiple tests to ensure she would have a healthy baby.
 
Oliver is blind, cannot eat normally and has difficulty standing on his own or walking. As he grows up, Miller's main concern is that Oliver's seizures could damage his brain severely and further limit his quality of life.
 
Their lives have been a constant process of trying new medications and Miller said she is cautiously optimistic about Charlotte's Web marijuana.
 
“You see the glimpses of what he is,” said Miller. “I just want him to have and to meet his full potential.”

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: dave from: nyc
January 09, 2014 1:05 PM
Cuomos efforts will kill the compassionate care act- for Republicans like Skelos or Libous will have an excuse to ignore a democratic bill-now that Cuomo hasn’t given them an opportunity to weigh in legislatively on his plan. Cuomos plan is arbitrary and will deny too many who could benefit from medical marijauana. Furthermore the crippling ignorance of doctors in NYS lead to the opioid crises and NYS being rated one of the worst statees in the Nation in pain care- so once again we can count on doctors to misprescribe medical marijuana. NYS just cant get it right when it comes to medical care for people in pain or using medications like marijuana for the public good.

by: Andrew Zebrun III from: WNY
January 08, 2014 6:35 PM
Please make cannabis widely available. My dad, Andrew Zebrun Jr. served in WWII becoming gravely injured. I watched him suffer, and die of his wounds. A simple plant grown much like a tomato could've helped him. Please give our heroic veterans, and all suffering patients a healthy gift, cannabis, can, cure...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More