Albany shouldn’t play doctor

New York’s medical marijuana program is a step in the right direction, but the regulations involved will inhibit patients’ access to medicine, and leave New Yorkers asking, “What are lawmakers in Albany smoking?”

The problems start with the requirement that Albany play doctor. There are 10 approved ailments, including cancer, HIV and AIDS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and epilepsy, for which marijuana can be prescribed.

At the bottom of this short list is the phrase “any other condition added by the [Commissioner of Health].” But why should a single person have sole responsibility for determining what ailments can be treated with medical marijuana?

The current health commissioner, Howard A. Zucker, may be a doctor, but the problem is he’s not your doctor. When you’re sick or need a physical, you don’t go see the commissioner; you see your own doctor. Your doctor knows your personal circumstances, which can only be gained through meeting and talking to you. Your doctor is in a better position to recommend treatments than the commissioner will ever be. The commissioner also doesn’t know your medical history and he’s incapable of monitoring your reaction to a particular drug.

Who does this hurt the most? The patients who are unable to receive treatment because their illness is not on the list.

The law, much less a single bureaucrat, should not be responsible for deciding what should be prescribed to a sick patient.

More problems arise from Albany deciding who gets to grow medical marijuana and who doesn’t. All interested applicants must first pay a nonrefundable application fee of $10,000. On top of that, there’s a registration fee of $200,000.

That means that if you’re looking to grow and sell medical marijuana in New York, it will cost you $210,000. If you want to keep growing in New York, you’ll have to pay that same amount every two years when your license expires.

Read the full article at the Albany Times Union ($).