Improving NY's Medical Program
Empire State of Cannabis Episode #27
Featuring New York State Senator Diane Savino
Senator Diane Savino, champion behind the Compassionate Care Act which established New York's medical cannabis program, joined us to talk about the shortcomings of the program and what needs to happen to improve it.
With the medical program set to expire in July, Senator Savino discusses the urgency to extend it while improving patient access, affordability, and product offerings. She also gives us her thoughts on the ongoing adult-use deliberations and how medical could exist alongside an adult-use marketplace.
Last week, CEO Kaelan Castetter spoke to State Senator Diane Savino for the latest episode of Empire State of Cannabis.
Senator Savino represents the 23rd Senate district in the New York State Senate, encompassing northern Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn. Savino has been a long-time supporter of progressive marijuana policies in New York, and was the leading sponsor for the legislation which legalized medical marijuana in 2014.
In this episode, Senator Savino and Kaelan Castetter share their thoughts on the medical marijuana program in New York, including its shortcomings and potential for expansion.
According to Savino, the current medical program in New York offers much to be desired stating,
"The medical program cannot be extended the way it is… It is a very narrow, restricted program which does not serve patients the way it should be.”
Savino also discusses the differences between adult-use and medical cannabis, stressing the importance that these two programs be treated separately in the state, in order to best serve consumer and patient needs.
“Medical grade marijuana is different… It’s not about getting high. It’s about specific strains that have been developed to help you deal with specific conditions… That market has to be allowed to develop to allow patients to find the relief they really need.”
In addition to their discussions and criticisms surrounding the current state of the medical marijuana program, Savino and Castetter also shared their thoughts on the potential for adult-use legislation this year. Particularly, Savino expressed concerns that negotiations between the two major legalization bills, the MRTA and CRTA, focus too much on “counting money that’s not there.” She also told of her worries that, if adult-use legislation includes unreasonable tax rates, the illicit market will continue to flourish.