Want Access to Marijuana Oil

Say Cannabis Product Could Help Save Lives

A Queens lawmaker wants the Department of Justice (DOJ) to permit New York State access to an emergency medical marijuana treatment that could save the lives of children with epilepsy and seizure disorders, it was announced last Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a medical marijuana bill into law in June, Rep. Joe Crowley wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Oct. 27 urging that access to an extracted oil know as cannabidiol be allowed immediately while the state program is set up, which could take 18 months, he stated.

The law was signed and put into effect this summer, but Crowley wants the state to be permitted to import the oil from other states, it was noted.

Crowley’s support for the measure came from meeting with families of children suffering from diseases in which cannabidiol has been found to be effective at treating.

This need is highlighted by the deaths of three children since July from complications related to epilepsy that were shown to be treatable with cannabidiol, Crowley stated. The oil has no psychoactive side effects, and is widely used in other states, he claimed.

“As a father of three kids, I can’t imagine the pain so many families are going through, and I knew I had to take action to help them seek relief,” Crowley said in a statement. “A demonstrated health care treatment is available, and it is only right for children who are suffering to have access to it. I urge the Justice Department to move as quickly as possible on this commonsense solution and allow New York to help these children and families.”

Crowley believes children suffering from these diseases who have not responded to other remedies should be allowed access to the lifesaving treatment, he said.

The letter was signed by 17 state Congressional delegation members on both sides of the aisle, Crowley noted.

“People in New York are unnecessarily suffering and dying because of our broken marijuana policies,” said Gabriel Sayegh, managing director for policy and campaigns for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We are pleased that so many members of the New York Congressional delegation from both parties have recognized this and called on the Department of Justice to help critically ill children. As a state and as a nation, we cannot allow more people to die needlessly because of antiquated marijuana laws.

“We urge the Department of Justice and the Cuomo Administration to do everything they can to swiftly get medicine into the hands of those who desperately need it,” Sayegh added.

Reportedly, New York has sought access to treatments like cannabidiol from other states, but has been denied due to federal interpretation of restrictions on transporting it across state lines. If approved by the DOJ, this request would allow children suffering from lack of access to needed treatments in the interim, it was noted.

“Every day makes a difference for children with these severe disorders. Given this urgent public health need, we urge you to allow New York the ability to import finite and strictly controlled amounts of cannabidiol,” the lawmakers wrote to Holder.

More from Around New York