Assembly Health Committee Update: April New Legislation Advanced to Improve Access to Medical Marijuana
April 9, 2016

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 10 bills at its meeting on April 5. The Health Committee had not met since its March 1 meeting because of work on the state budget.

The Committee reported bills to expand public access to epinephrine auto-injectors ("epi-pens"); establish age-appropriate sex education grant programs; and require apartment building owners to develop and distribute smoking policies.

The Committee also reported three bills to improve the 2014 Compassionate Care Act medical marijuana law and expand patient access. Changes required by the Executive as conditions of signing the bill, and Health Department regulations, drastically limited the scope of the program. The three bills reported by the Committee would:

  • Allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe medical marijuana (today they are already fully authorized to write prescriptions for even the strongest and most dangerous controlled substances).
  • Expand the list of eligible conditions. The conditions added in this bill were initially passed by the Assembly but deleted from the final law at the Executive's insistence.
  • Create an advisory committee to assist the Commissioner in making regulations, advise the Commissioner on clinical matters, and review appeals of denials of patient or caregiver applications; require that medical marijuana regulations conform to the legislative intent and have a valid clinical or public safety basis.

For more information on a particular bill, please contact the sponsor listed after the description. For the text of a bill, supporting memorandum, and information on its status, go to: http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi

April 5

Multiple Dwelling Smoking Policies - Requires owners of multiple dwelling buildings to develop smoking policies, publicly post these policies, and share them with both tenants and prospective tenants. The bill would not empower an owner to adopt any rule he or she does not already have authority to adopt. (A35, Paulin)

Healthy Teens Act - Establishes Department of Health grants for age-appropriate sex education programs. (A1616A, Gottfried)

Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) Transparency - "Pharmacy benefit managers" administer drug coverage for health plans, including negotiating discounts with drug manufacturers. There have been serious cases of PBMs dishonestly profiteering at the expense of health plans, imposing additional costs on beneficiaries and employers. This bill would require financial transparency and require PBMs to operate in the interest of their health plan clients. (A2312A, Gottfried)

Burn Unit Feasibility Study - Requires the Department to study the feasibility of creating a burn unit at Kings County Medical Center in collaboration with the trauma center at SUNY Downstate Medical Center's University Hospital of Brooklyn. (A8603, Richardson)

Under-18 Tanning Prohibition - Current law prohibits children under 17 from using ultraviolet radiation devices (17 year-olds require parental consent). This bill raises the prohibition to 18 years of age. (A9058, Kaminsky

Physical Fitness Education Program - Establishes a physical fitness and activity education campaign within the Department of Health. (A9356, Cusick)

Expanding Epi-Pen Access - Authorizes public venues such as restaurants, youth organizations, theme parks, day cares, retail stores, and sports arenas to acquire and stock epinephrine auto-injectors (epi-pens), to be used by people with training to help individuals experiencing anaphylactic symptoms. The bill requires the organization to designate one or more trained persons to be responsible for storage, maintenance, and general oversight of the epi-pens. (A9357, Abinanti)

Medical Marijuana Physician Assistant (PA) and Nurse Practitioner (NP) Prescribing - The original medical marijuana bill passed by the Assembly in 2014 allowed PAs and NPs to certify patients for medical marijuana. The enacted law, however, limited this power to physicians and directed the Commissioner to consider including NPs, but the Commissioner has not chosen to do so. Today, PAs and NPs are fully authorized to write prescriptions for even the strongest and most dangerous controlled substances. This bill allows them to also certify patients for medical marijuana as in the original bill. (A9510, Gottfried)

Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee and Out-of-State Certifications -This bill creates an advisory committee to assist the Commissioner in making regulations and to review appeals of denials of patient or caregiver applications. It also establishes a subcommittee specializing in clinical matters including recommendations regarding the eligible conditions list. It requires that medical marijuana regulations conform to the legislative intent and have a valid clinical or public safety basis. Finally, this bill requires New York's program to recognize out-of-state patient certifications if a New York-approved practitioner certifies the patient's condition. (A9553, Gottfried)

Medical Marijuana Conditions and Dosing - The original medical marijuana bill passed by the Assembly in 2014 authorized use for several conditions that were deleted from the enacted law at the insistence of the Executive. Expanding this list would offer critical treatment to more patients whose lives could be improved by medical marijuana. The bill also deletes the law's limit of ten milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per dose. The proper amount is a decision that should be made by a patient and his or her health care practitioner. (A9562