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ALBANY 12224


November 11, 2015

MEMORANDUM filed with Assembly Bill 7060, entitled:
"AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to expedited access to
medical marihuana in certain cases"
MEMORANDUM filed with Assembly Bill 8258, entitled:
"AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to a special certification
for use of medical marihuana"
In 2014, I signed the Compassionate Care Act, which comprehensively regulates and
strictly controls the manufacture, sale, and certification for use of medical marijuana in New York
State. The Act achieves the necessary balance between potentially alleviating the pain and
suffering of patients in need of relief while protecting against risks to public health and safety.
The State's medical marijuana program remains on track for full implementation in January 2016.
These two bills would create a new, and entirely separate, emergency medical marijuana
access program. The new program would require the Department of Health (the "Department") to
create an expedited pathway to certify patients for medical marijuana use if a patient's serious
condition is progressive and degenerative, or if delaying the certified use of medical marijuana
would pose a serious risk to a patient's life or health. The new expedited program would also
require the Department to register additional organizations to produce medical marijuana as soon
as practicable, and issue new regulations that waive the tight controls that are the hallmark of the
Compassionate Care Act. This includes, but is not limited to, giving preference to registered
organizations or applicants that are currently producing or providing medical marijuana in another
state, and thus capable of providing medical marijuana to patients in a more expeditious manner.
I deeply sympathize with New Yorkers suffering from serious illness and I appreciate that
medical marijuana may alleviate their chronic pain and debilitating symptoms. I am also mindful,
however, of the overarching authority, jurisdiction and oversight of the Federal Govermnent in
matters related to the subject of these bills. Thus, while I am approving these bills, I am directing
the Department to implement the emergency access program only in a manner fully compliant with
the directives set forth in the United States Department of Justice's August 29, 2013 memorandum
entitled, "Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement" (the "Cole Memorandum"). The Cole
Memorandum sets forth certain activities that will trigger the Federal Govermnent's pre-emptive
prevention objectives and enforcement priorities. By taking this necessary step, I am ensuring that
the new expedited access program will not jeopardize the continued viability of the State's existing
medical marijuana program. I am also ensuring that the Department retains its ability to strictly
regulate product manufacturing and inventory, prevent diversion of marijuana, and properly
identify patients and caregivers lawfully possessing medical marijuana.
In addition, with the Compassionate Care Act, I have sought to ensure that all New Yorkers
with a certified need have access to medical marijuana, regardless of where in the State they may
live. New Yorkers should not have to forego potentially beneficial medical treatment for their
serious illnesses simply because of geography. Accordingly, I am also directing the Department
to complete a comprehensive assessment of the most recent state and county-level population and
medical data that has become available after the five registered organizations were announced on
July 31, 2015 to ensure the program's dispensary locations will satisfy patient need. This analysis