Medical marijuana supporters push for faster access

New York's medical marijuana program is scheduled to begin in January 2016.

New York's medical marijuana program is scheduled to begin in January 2016. (5/20/15)

WOODBURY - Supporters of medical marijuana are pushing for New York state to speed up its program so patients in pain could see some relief.

Jumanne McDaniel, of Central Islip, walks with a cane because he suffers from a spinal injury that was the result of falling on black ice a decade ago. He says that the back surgery he underwent was unsuccessful, as were powerful narcotics.

The 42-year-old father found solace while using legal medical marijuana in Seattle, but says he cannot understand why it is taking so long for the program to take effect in New York.

"I've been dealing with this for so long," McDaniel said. "I just have to continue to suffer because anything else I would do would be... illegal."

Medical marijuana laws vary greatly from state to state, from what illnesses it can be used for, to who is allowed to grow it and what forms of the drug patients are legally allowed to use.

Public health advocate Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds says the goal in New York is to get the program right for everyone.

"The experiences in some other states have been somewhat mixed, and so I think this state wanted to do this in a very thoughtful and methodical way," Reynolds said. "So while that means it takes a little bit longer, I think the outcomes will be better."

Reynolds also says that there should be more research at the federal level into the effects of medical marijuana.

New York's Compassionate Care Act was passed last July, but the medical marijuana program is not scheduled to begin until January 2016.

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