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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid