Democrat & Chronicle

At least 11 FOIL requests for marijuana docs denied

By Patti Singer | May 23, 2016

11 FOIL Requests for Marijuana Docs Denied In the third sentence of a four-sentence email, a person looking for a neurologist who is part of New York’s medical marijuana program bluntly stated why the state Department of Health needed to fulfill the Freedom of Information request for the names of registered providers.

“Under the Freedom of Information law that list is supposed to be available to me since state licensing is involved which makes that list available for patients.”

You’d think.

The writer closed the email with: “Thank you and have a great day.”

Not even good manners could wrest the names of doctors from the clutches of the Department of Health.

The letter was among 11 FOIL requests to the department from Jan. 1 through March 17, 2016, the first three months of the state’s Compassionate Care Act.

The law allows patients with one of 10 qualifying conditions to receive medical marijuana if those patients are certified by a physician who had completed a state-mandated training course.

One problem: The patients can’t find out who those doctors were. As documented by the Democrat and Chronicle, the state health department has refused to release to the public the names of doctors. The names of the physicians are available only to other physicians. If a patient’s own doctor was not on the list, the patient had to rely on that doctor for a recommendation.

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Artvoice

How Governor Cuomo made Medical Marijuana Insanely Expensive

By Marc Gromis | May 5, 2016

Insanely Expensive Marijuana As the number of patients qualifying to purchase medical cannabis under New York’s program slowly rises, many are complaining about the high price of the medicine in New York. Medical marijuana, which is not covered by health insurance, is much more affordable in other states.

Some patients have said that the five companies (“registered organizations”) that have received licenses to manufacture and sell medical cannabis in New York are charging high prices due to greed. However, what many patients do not know is that the high prices New Yorkers must pay is not due to decisions made by the licensees. Rather, it is because the licensees’ costs, which serve as the basis for the prices they are allowed to charge, are extremely high. And, many of these costs are due to unnecessarily strict and misguided provisions of the New York program.

ABOUT THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM

Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law on July 5, 2014.

It has been reported that before he agreed to sign any medical cannabis legislation, the Governor insisted on many changes to the law. These revisions have made New York’s program one of the strictest and most complicated in the nation. The program is extremely financially challenging to the licensees, and the least helpful to patients who desperately need access to medical cannabis.

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

Under the law, the Commissioner of the Department of Health was permitted to register only five applicants to manufacture and dispense approved medical marijuana for the entire state. The application process was extremely complicated and expensive. Several applicants have indicated that it cost them $1,000,000 just to prepare an application.

In addition to a $10,000 application fee, applicants were required to submit detailed manufacturing plans from the planting of seeds to the harvesting of plants, extraction of oils procedures, and details for testing, storage, and transport of the medicine. Security plans also had to be submitted showing that there would be cameras providing constant surveillance of every section of the greenhouses, laboratories, safes, and entrances to the manufacturing location, and at each of the four dispensaries that licensees would be allowed to operate.

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Artvoice

Unkind, Bud - New York's Medical Marijuana Program is Unfriendly to Patients

By Marc Gromis | March 3, 2016

Unkind, Bud After waiting almost two years for the rollout of New York’s medical marijuana program, many people who have sought to use medical cannabis to treat their ailments are finding that the so called “Compassionate Care Act” is anything but compassionate.

Among the obstacles facing people who seek medical marijuana as a means to provide relief from illnesses are the very small number of medical conditions covered by New York’s program, difficulties in finding doctors who have taken the training to recommend medical cannabis, the small number of licensed dispensaries, the limited modes of administering the medication, and the high cost of the medicine

One of the most frustrating problems being reported by potential users of medical cannabis is the difficulty in finding registered doctors who can recommend the use of the medicine. Although the New York Department of Health’s website previously had indicated that there would be a listing of the names of doctors who had registered under the program and who had consented to the disclosure of their names, the Department now indicates that the list of registered doctors is only available to physicians. This position is not consistent with the desire of registered doctors to allow patients who need medical marijuana to be able to find and contact them.

The Department of Health has denied Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests for this list, with a position that forces patients to go to their treating physicians—who have not been trained in medical school or by the DOH’s online program regarding medical marijuana—and have such doctor determine whether medical marijuana may be appropriate for the patient. According to the DOH, the patients must be hopeful that their treating doctors will agree to go online and refer them to a registered doctor.

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Artvoice

The Conspiracy Behind Cannabis Prohibition

By Marc Gromis | February 11, 2016

The Conspiracy Behind Cannabis Prohibition Why is the United States the only industrial country in the world that prohibits its farmers from growing hemp? And, why, in a nation that permits adults to use tobacco, alcohol and deadly pain medications like OxyContin and Xanax, is it unlawful to use marijuana for medicinal and other purposes?

To answers these questions one must examine the history of cannabis prohibition from the 1930s till today.

In 1930, Harry Anslinger was appointed the first commissioner of the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). The Narcotics Bureau, like the Bureau of Prohibition, was under the U.S. Treasury Department.

Anslinger had been appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, banker/businessman Andrew W. Mellon of Pennsylvania, the wealthiest man in America and his wife’s uncle. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was given a budget of $100,000 (about $1.5 million today). Anslinger did not consider marijuana to be a serious threat to American society. He changed his mind in 1934, the fourth year of his tenure (Prohibition ended in 1933), at which point he spearheaded an anti-marijuana campaign aimed at scaring the public and outlawing cannabis in all forms. Receiving heavy support from the famous newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Anslinger propelled the anti-marijuana sentiment to a national movement.

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The Buffalo News

Former Federal Prosecutor Sets Up Medical Marijuana Law Practice

By Dan Herbeck | January 9, 2016

Marc S. Gromis worked as a federal prosecutor for 15 years, going after scam artists who cheated people out of their money. He retired in 2002 as chief of white-collar crime prosecutions in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo.

Now, he’s starting a new legal career. Gromis is believed to be the first lawyer in Western New York to set up a law office focused solely on the state’s new medical marijuana program.

He wants to help qualified patients and caregivers get access to medical marijuana. He wants to help the state’s authorized producers and sellers of marijuana to avoid legal problems. He wants to help other business people to navigate state laws to become sanctioned sellers. And he wants to help marijuana advocacy groups to fight for improvements in the state’s law.

“New York State’s program for medical marijuana can use a lot of improvement, but it’s a big first step in the right direction,” Gromis said.

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