The recent, tragic death of an 8-year old girl prompted a medical cannabis rally in New York in December outside of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in Manhattan. The girl lived in Niagara Falls, and passed away from brain cancer that could have been helped or treated with medical cannabis.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, Nate Nocera, the father of the victim, stated that, “More than five months after Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law that was meant to bring vital treatment to our family, my daughter Donella is dead. Governor Cuomo, I know you cannot turn back time to get us the medical marijuana that could have slowed the aggressive growth of the tumor in her brain… but you have the power to end the needless suffering of so many New York families.”
Although the bill was passed, the legal restrictions regarding it are very strict, and the act won’t actually go into effect until 2016, and possibly later. Meanwhile, there are many more children in need of medical cannabis treatment that could save their lives, and unless something changes about the way the legislation is lined up, they won’t get it in time.
This movement has received positive support since December, both from the medical and legal communities. Dr. May Piperato, who has a child with epilepsy, told the Huffington Post that, “As a parent with a sick child who could benefit from medical cannabis, my heart goes out to Nate Nocera and the other families who have lost children waiting for emergency access. And as a physician, I cannot understand why critically ill New Yorkers don’t have access to this safe and effective medication. Governor Cuomo needs to create access to this medication now before more lives are lost.”
Two New York senators, Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, sent memos to the Justice Department trying to expedite the ruling. “As Members of Congress whose constituents suffer from these illnesses, we feel that the federal government ought to do what it can to help these children,” they stated. “This measure is a healthcare imperative.”
While the death of this young child is unimaginably tragic, perhaps it will be the push needed to get this bill passed, so that future children won’t have to suffer needlessly, and can get the medication they deserve.
This piece first appeared in Culture Magazine.