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NY asks feds to bring in out-of-state medical marijuana

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

New York’s health department is requesting permission from the federal government to import out-of-state marijuana for medical purposes until its in-state program can finish the regulatory process.

In July, New York became the 23rd state to authorize the use of medical marijuana for patients with diseases, including AIDS, cancer and epilepsy. The program requires the health department to write rules and license marijuana production companies. The department says that will take until 2016 to get the program underway.

In the meantime, Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration has asked the Department of Justice for permission to bring in marijuana from states with already developed programs. Marijuana policy experts doubt this will happen.

"It takes a long, long time to get these permission," says Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project.

She says the federal government has been slow to recognize the medical benefits of cannabis, and that Cuomo has been equally slow to implement medical marijuana.

"I don’t want to speculate as to his motivations, but as Governor of the state of New York, there are ways to expedite the process without asking for special permission from the federal government."

Yeung says it typically takes years for the federal government to give researchers access to marijuana. Instead, she and other pro-marijuana groups want Cuomo's administration to fast track production within the state.

Connecticut legalized medical marijuana two years ago, and had its first sale of medical marijuana last week.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.
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