ALBANY, NY — A bipartisan bill that would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for New York’s medical marijuana program passed the New York Senate Health Committee 15-1 on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 5629 is sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) and co-sponsored by several senators, including Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who previously opposed medical marijuana legislation. A companion bill, A 7006, received overwhelming approval from the Assembly last week (101-6).
Several proposals to expand the medical marijuana program have passed the Assembly and failed in the Senate Health Committee, so Tuesday’s committee vote marks a significant step toward the passage of S 5629.
Patients, advocates, and other observers have criticized the program for being unnecessarily restrictive, but it has begun to expand following several recent regulatory changes, including the addition of chronic pain as a qualifying condition.
Twenty-four of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs allow patients with PTSD to qualify.
In two of the states that do not, Colorado and Alaska, marijuana is legal and regulated for adults 21 and older. A bill to add PTSD to Colorado’s medical marijuana program was approved by the Legislature last month and is now awaiting the governor’s signature. Bills to add PTSD are also making their way through the legislatures in Vermont and New Hampshire.
“I am grateful to the Senate Health Committee for advancing this compassionate bill, and on behalf of countless veterans who could benefit, I urge the full Senate to promptly approve the bill,” said Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.
“Veterans with PTSD should not have to choose between FDA-approved medications that carry a black box suicide warning and off-label drugs with no clinical efficacy and horrible side effects. There is another way: medical marijuana has helped veterans have a restful night’s sleep instead of night terrors, and thus experience a better quality of life,” Krawitz added.
“We congratulate the Health Committee for passing this compassionate legislation and strongly urge the Senate to follow suit,” Kate M. Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
“Twenty-four states already allow PTSD patients to access medical marijuana, and three others appear to be on the verge of allowing it. There is no rational reason why New Yorkers should not also be able to access medical cannabis to treat PTSD. Patients should not have to resort to accessing marijuana in a dangerous and unregulated criminal market to get the relief they need,” added Bell.
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