New York MMJ Program Hampered by ‘Burdensome’ Rules

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A New York Assemblyman who was among the sponsors of the MMJ legalization law says the rule-making process, set to wrap up shortly, is creating an overly-restrictive dispensary system.

Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat who was among the law’s sponsors, said the Health Department’s program imposes “a long list of senseless burdensome restrictions on patients and organizations,” according to The New York Times.

The state health department said the rules are necessary to ensure safeguards are in place to prevent abuse.

New York law states that those suffering from only 10 ailments qualify for MMJ, marijuana can’t be smoked and only 20 dispensaries, which will be run by five organizations, will be allowed to operate, the Times reported. Only five brands of MMJ would be allowed out of the hundreds available to patients, and those can’t have street or slang names.

Patient advocates say the system under development ignores the experience and examples of states which already have effective, implemented medical cannabis programs.

The law will limit access to medical cannabis and require licensed consumers or caregivers to drive hours to procure medication, particularly in upstate New York where towns are further from each other, according to the Times. Some are holding out hope that delivery of the drug will be allowed, but that may be difficult as it requires written approval from the government.

Would-be cannabis business owners in New York have spent thousands, or in some case millions, of dollars on preparing for legalization to take effect in 2016, including hiring lobbyists to advocate on their behalf.