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Cancer survivors seek to change Governor’s mind on medical marijuana
Governor Cuomo said Tuesday that in spite of last minute changes before midnight, he will not sign a bill legalizing medical marijuana. A vote that was to happen before lawmakers recess on Thursday is now on hold.
If youre not supporting this bill- and Im not exaggerating here- youre going to have blood on your hands, said Sue Kidera. There are people who just cant do it anymore, just cant take the side effects anymore.
Kidera is an artist who paints with the vibrant colors that match the vibrant way she tackled life- until one September day nine years ago. It was tough to hear. I had no family history and it really did just fall out of the sky, she recalled.
Her diagnosis that day: colon cancer. Because it was late stage- stage four- she has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments ever since. With few breaks.
Nine years with this, she said from the living room of her home in Victor. Its our way of life. And to be able to get up and take that again and again, those toxic chemicals, you have to be able to manage the side effects, she said.
Prescription drugs to ease the side effects instead make them worse. The drugs for the side effects (themselves) have very serious side effects. Theyre narcotics. Theyre not like when you talk about cannabis- its a botanical.
After first proposing medical marijuana research centers for some hospitals around the state, Governor Cuomo now says he wont sign a broader Compassionate Care Act to allow medical marijuana for 18 specific ailments or conditions.
I want a provision that if we find we created a system that poses a public safety risk or a public health risk that we can stop, Cuomo told radios Capitol Pressroom.
We think hes trying to run the clock out, we think this is a stall tactic, said Holly Anderson. Anderson is a breast cancer survivor and head of the Breast Cancer Coalition. She has advocated tirelessly for the passage of the compassionate care act.
One by one our senators understood, they listened to us, she said. The things that are happening with the governor now are mind-boggling.
The Compassionate Care Act was passed in the Assembly 17 years ago. For the first time in 17 years advocates believe they have convinced enough senators to vote for it. But it will not be brought to the floor unless Governor Cuomo changes his mind.
He wants the bill to include a ban on smoking the drug and another requiring the program to be evaluated in five years. Anderson, Kidera and others from Rochester will be in Albany Wednesday to try to convince him to change his mind.
Anderson says the governor has never met with patients who would benefit from the drug and there are no guarantees he will now. Botanicals work for many of these patients and to have it tabled for another year is beyond cruel, its inhumane, Anderson said.
During rare treatment breaks Sue Kidera recharges by participating on a rowing team made up of cancer survivors. She is giving up some of her precious and few good days to make the trip to Albany. When I think about legislators having the power to allow them to alleviate someones suffering and they turn their back on that, I just dont see how they can do that, she said.
On Thursday when the state session ends she will be back in Rochester for another medical scan to see if the cancer which has already spread to her lungs has progressed.