New York’s medical pot dispensaries are open, hope you don’t plan on using one

New York entered the 21st century Thursday, with eight medical marijuana dispensaries opening their doors across the state under a 2014 law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It only took that liberal bastion of progressive thought some 20 years to follow suit after California passed the first legislation allowing for the medical use of marijuana back in 1996. New York can now proudly say it joins the ranks of 22 other forward-thinking states, such as Montana and Arizona, in leading the way in providing compassionate care to people suffering illnesses like cancer and multiple sclerosis. Pat yourself on the back, Empire State.

Except not so fast there, New York. Your medical marijuana legislation sucks. It’s as draconian as your Rockefeller Drug Laws, and it’s similarly destined to help no one and become a huge disaster. At the end of the month, you will have allowed only 20 dispensaries in a state of nearly 20 million people to open. Approximately 7.5 million of those people are located on Long Island, where the nearest dispensary will be on 14th Street in Manhattan. Hopefully anyone with M.S. in Montauk who has hoped to treat their seizures with the drug won’t mind the four hour train ride into to the city.

That is, if they’re able to get their hands on a prescription in the first place. New York State is requiring any doctor who intends to prescribe the drug undergo a four-hour, $249 training course online — a condition nearly no other state with medical marijuana has. Best of luck to anyone looking for one of the mere 150 docs who’ve decided to it.

And to those that do find a doctor who has opted to undergo licensing, cross your fingers that they think you’re suffering enough to qualify for the medicine. Medical marijuana is only approved in New York to treat 10 conditions, and even if you have one of them, you have to show signs of “cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms.”

To any patient lucky enough to get that far, holding a prescription and ready to be buzzed in through the doors of one of the absurdly high security storefronts selling the medicine, better hope they’ve got a strain or method of ingestion that works for their symptoms. New York only handed out five licenses to companies looking to supply the medicine, meaning a limited number of strain combinations available. And with no options to inhale the medicine under the law, patients have to be okay with ingesting it orally, which can be a little tricky.

And all of this for what reason? With the number of regulations included under New York state’s medical marijuana law, you’d think it applied to something that people have actually died from. But while opiate-abuse is currently a nationwide epidemic, there’s no four-hour, $250 training course necessary to prescribe oxy, and you can pick it up at your nearest Duane Reade.

[New York Times]