Cuomo announces agreement on heroin, prescription drug bills

Posted at: 06/18/2014 3:20 PM
Updated at: 06/18/2014 6:15 PM
By: WNYT Staff

A third of all seizures of heroin nationwide, are in the New York State, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The drug is cheap, $5-$10 a baggie -- and young people are getting addicted. Lawmakers say they clearly have a major problem and that's heroin was one of the top priorities this legislative year.

The governor, the co-leaders from the senate and Speaker Sheldon Silver say the agreement is a comprehensive approach. The components include public safety, education and public awareness. Public health.

He says to make treatment more accessible, the state will issue a definition of what is medically necessary.

“They’ll be one standard definition of what is medically necessary. So insurance companies can't play games and decide who gets treatment and who doesn't get treatment,” explained Gov. Cuomo.

The measure also increases penalties for illegal sales. However, as lawmakers were dealing with heroin and opioid abuse -- advocates in favor of medical marijuana were right outside his office on the second floor of the Capitol.

The group called Compassionate Care New York with advocates from all over the state is urging lawmaker to take action on the Compassionate Care Act. The bill would legalize doctor prescribed medical marijuana for certain patients to ease their pain.

“They are holding us hostage. We have a medicine that can help so many people,” said Missy Miller from Compassionate New York.

The governor and legislators are still trying to work out some details. The governor says he just wants to make sure it's safe.

“I want to make sure we don't make a mistake on this one,” the governor said. “It's very hard to put the genie back into the bottle if you do it wrong.”

The governor says he wants a provision to stop the marijuana program if in the future a risk to public health and public safety is discovered. He also does not want patients to smoke it.

He will issue a message if necessity if necessary on the marijuana bill to make sure lawmakers can vote on it right away instead of waiting the usual three days.