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New York politician worries legalization could hurt medical program

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New York politician worries legalization could hurt medical program


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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

A New York politician recently said that she’s concerned legalizing social use cannabis in the state could harm the state’s medical cannabis program. As the New York Daily News reports, states like Oregon and Washington have seen medical programs suffer due to legalization, because they find there are fewer products specifically for the medical side and fewer medical dispensaries.

“I have an interest in making sure whatever we do in New York doesn’t disrupt the medical marijuana program, which has happened in other states,” said State Sen. Diane Savino.

“It’s not as simple as growing a plant and just using it,” Savino said. “You can undermine the medical program. A pharmaceutical-grade marijuana is a different kettle of fish. It’s grown and processed and created to deal with specific conditions. Every plant doesn’t work the same way.”

Advocates in the state see why there is a concern here and think the solution is simply to make sure the legalization bill that passes protects the medical program. They see this as something that can surely be accomplished.

Doug Greene, the legislative director for NORML’s New York office, said that if the bill is not “carefully crafted and implemented” that it could harm the medical program. He said the bill should not tax medical cannabis and should allow patients to purchase higher quantities of cannabis than the “general adult population.” He also said he does not believe any New Yorkers are currently using medical cannabis for recreational purposes.

Greene believes legalizing social use cannabis could benefit medical users, as they are not currently allowed to grow cannabis or access flower. He also believes prices for cannabis would go down if social use was legalized, as there would be more cannabis being produced and distributed.

Savino has visited Nevada to observe their medical and social use markets to see how they operate because she believes they’ve found a good way to balance the needs of both sides of legal cannabis. She thinks this version of legalization could work in New York. She also believes New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will address concerns relating to racial diversity in the cannabis industry this coming year, which she said is another thing Nevada has done well.

Until cannabis is legalized at the federal level, lawmakers in states across the country will continue to experiment with how their state can legalize in the best way possible. While this is frustrating for them and creates issues within states that don’t do things the best way possible, it could help educate us on how to best implement legal cannabis nationally when that time comes.

 

 

 

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