CASAColumbia Shares Governor Cuomo's Concerns About Medical Marijuana | Center on Addiction

CASAColumbia Shares Governor Cuomo's Concerns About Medical Marijuana

CASAColumbia Shares Governor Cuomo's Concerns About Medical Marijuana


On June 19, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a deal to create a medical marijuana program for New York. Cuomo says that the agreement “strikes the right balance” between making marijuana available for people who have serious health conditions and protecting public health and safety at the same time. The most notable part of the agreement, known as the Compassionate Care Act, is that medical marijuana will not be available in smoked form.

We share Cuomo’s concerns about the balance of making treatment available for people who need it while prohibiting smoked marijuana. His decision is in line with the evidence. For example, the Institute of Medicine concluded that individual components of marijuana, known as cannabinoids, can provide real relief to patients suffering from illnesses such as cancer and unwanted weight loss from HIV/AIDS but that smoked marijuana is an unsafe way of delivering the drug. Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved the smoked form of any medicine, and there are already two cannabinoid-based medications, Marinol and Cesamet, that do not involve smoking and have been approved to treat certain conditions.

The best way to provide treatment to people who need it and to protect public health is to subject components of marijuana to the FDA’s procedures of review and regulation for new drugs. The National Institutes of Health should develop streamlined procedures to increase research on the utility of these components for medical use and permit compassionate use as appropriate. When we use the legislature or the ballot box to approve medicines, we risk the health and safety of many Americans, particularly our children. 

 Mark Stovell

 Mark Stovell is a freelance blogger.


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