Women in New York who suffer from severe menstrual cramps may soon qualify for medical marijuana.
The New York Assembly's Health Committee has passed an initiative that would add dysmenorrhea – the medical term for serious period pain – to the list of conditions necessary to qualify for a medical cannabis prescription.
Roughly 20 percent of women experience dysmenorrhea, which can keep them from performing daily tasks like getting out of bed and going to work, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
“This is a woman’s health issue and for years women have suffered in silence. There’s Midol. You can take Advil, but really nothing more,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, the Democrat who introduced the bill.
“Men have really been [the ones] who’ve run state houses, governorships, presidencies, and some issues that are just about women have gotten short-changed and that’s because it’s not in men’s everyday consciousness.”
Assembly Bill 582 was approved in a 21-2 vote by the committee and will now head to the Assembly floor. It will also require the green light from the New York Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“People are starting to understand that medical marijuana is a useful tool to relieve suffering and women’s suffering from severe menstrual cramps,” said Rosenthal.
“There is some mild discomfort for some, but some women can’t leave their bed for a week.”
Currently, only those suffering from cancer, HIV or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington's disease or chronic pain can access medical marijuana in New York.
Rosenthal believes the high level of support for the measure – including that of Whoopi Goldberg, who released a line of medical cannabis products for menstrual pain in 2016 – is a good sign it will be passed.
“I think we’re a progressive state. It did take 20 years to get medical marijuana to be the law,” she said,” but we’re going to work hard to get it passed.”
“And I’m sure many women will vouch for what they have to go through each month.”