ALBANY, N.Y. – As Gov. Andrew Cuomo sat down to ceremonially sign New York’s medical-marijuana bill into law, a 10-year-old girl stood by his side.
Amanda Houser, of Suffern, New York, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that begins in infancy and causes her to experience multiple seizures a day and adhere to a severely restricted diet.
With Cuomo’s signature Saturday, New York became the 23rd state to legalize marijuana for seriously ill or injured patients. And when he needed someone to introduce him for the ceremonial signing Monday in Manhattan, Cuomo turned to Amanda and her mother, Maryanne Houser.
“Hi, my name is Amanda,” she said, reading from a piece of purple construction paper that matched her sparkly dress. “I want to be a normal girl and I want my seizures to stop. P.S. I want to be off this diet. Right everyone?”
Cuomo and top state lawmakers gathered at the New York Academy of Medicine on Monday for the bill-signing ceremony, which came two days after he officially signed the medical-marijuana legislation and about two weeks since the Legislature passed it.
The governor’s signature started an 18-month clock for the state Department of Health to have the program up and running, which will allow state-certified doctors to prescribe the drug to patients with cancer, epilepsy and other serious diseases and conditions.