New York medical marijuana program limits strains, prohibits home growing


While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will no doubt get some political points for sidestepping the legislature and finally allowing medical marijuana in his state, the program is extremely limited and leaves some once-hopeful medical cannabis supporters without options.
Notably: the cannabis that will be dispensed through a limited number of hospitals likely won’t be varied enough to include high-CBD strains so beneficial for things like pain and seizure management.

According to the executive order by Cuomo today, patients will be able to access medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation, but they won’t be able to grow the herb themselves and importing strains from out-of-state remains illegal. According to Reuters, patients likely won’t even have much of a choice in the pot they are given.
That move disappointed the parents of at least one child suffering from a rare, seizure-causing disorder who were hoping to be able to import a specific strain from Colorado to help their son. Missy Miller says her son Oliver is being left behind by the law, and that the family isn’t sure what they’ll do if they can’t access “Charlotte’s Web”.
However Reuters (and, it seems, the Millers) also seems to make the assumption that only one specific strain of cannabis from Colorado is able to provide high-CBD medicine. “Charlottes Web”, a strain developed by a group of Colorado medical marijuana dispensary owners, certainly is promising but it’s become a proprietary brand for the people selling it and clearly they’ve done a good job of marketing it as the only hope when frankly there’s plenty of other high-CBD plants out there and lots of other sources for high-CBD oil.
Not only that, but the plants for New York’s medical marijuana program have to come from somewhere, and while technically importing them from out of state is illegal – the mere fact that the plants exist in New York to begin with is technically illegal. In theory, someone could get clones of a high-CBD plant from out of state right now and then filter them up through the medical program when the grow operations start going through licensing and rulemaking.
That would certainly help increase the genetic variety of the plants. But it wouldn’t help the still-restrictive program.
Mainly: it will rely on hospitals to dispense the plant – which could put them in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors since hospitals often receive federal funding and selling illegal cannabis alongside federally-controlled pharmaceutical drugs might scare many hospital directors away from participating.