New York legislators passed two significant bills in June: one to address the opioid crisis and the other to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the heroin legislation into law and is set to sign the marijuana bill this week.
New York Legislature passed 11 bills in an effort to combat the heroin epidemic. The bills include several provisions to improve treatment options and increase law enforcement. For example, under the new bills, insurance companies will be required to define medical necessity of treatment with evidence-based criteria, enabling more people to get coverage. In addition, the provisions would create a program to provide services to individuals for up to nine months after they complete treatment.
“They say in substance abuse, drug abuse treatment, the first step is to admit the reality, right? … Denial is not an option. And we shouldn’t deny the problem we currently have,” Cuomo said.
In the same week, the New York Senate passed a medical marijuana bill enabling patients with conditions such as cancer and epilepsy to utilize cannabis treatment. This makes New York the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana.
The Cuomo administration negotiated an agreement in which smoking of the drug would not be permitted and ensured that there was a provision to end the program at any time.
When weighing the benefits and risks of prescribing marijuana to treat ailments, Cuomo said, “We believe this bill strikes the right balance.”