In the midst of the Big Apple's annual Veterans Day parade down Fifth Avenue, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he had signed legislation granting medical marijuana access for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), making the Empire State the 27th out of 29 states with medical marijuana provisions to allow the all-natural medication to patients suffering from the widespread psychological condition.
The Democratic governor said 19,000 New Yorkers with PTSD could be helped by medical marijuana. "Many of our veterans are suffering from PTSD and the medical community has determined that marijuana can be a helpful treatment in some areas". Advocates and patients across the state have been keeping the pressure on our lawmakers to add PTSD as a qualifying condition since the Governor signed the Compassionate Care Act into law in July of 2014.
The PTSD bill was part of a package of legislation that Cuomo signed to mark Veterans Day. The governor's office estimates 19,000 patients in NY could be helped by the newly-available treatment.
The bill allows military veterans, police officers and firefighters, as well as survivors of domestic violence, access to the state's burgeoning marijuana dispensary system.
According to Jill Montag, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, New York State's Medical Marijuana Program has certified 35,621 patients, since its launch almost two years ago and has 1,316 registered practitioners.
He also approved measures to waive fees for veterans, honor them in the State Capitol and provide veterans employed by the state with paid leave for counseling and doctor's appointments.
"This country is not this country without the work of the veterans. And their sacrifice and their courage is the highest form of patriotism", said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
State Senator Diane Savino, who wrote the bill, was pleased with the outcome.
"What we've said to the veterans is we appreciate your service and when you come back home we'll be there for you".