New York may legalize medical marijuana for menstrual cramps

Last month, the New York Assembly's Health Committee passed an initiative to add dysmenorrhea -- severe period cramps -- to the list of conditions necessary to qualify for medical marijuana use.

According to the bill, "Not only will this improve women's wellness and productivity during menstruation, but it will also advance New York State in one of the country's fastest-growing industries."

The bill claims that marijuana will help with the period pain. Dr. Charles Pollack, an emergency-medicine physician at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and the director of the university's Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp, spoke to Live Science about whether it really does.

According to Pollack, there are not enough studies that confirm that marijuana relieves cramp pain. However, he also said, "it's not out of the realm of the possible."

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who introduced the bill, told Newsweek, "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." Rosenthal blames the lack of legislation on the issue on the fact that most people in Congress are men.

"There is some mild discomfort for some, but some women can't leave their bed for a week,"

Rosenthal continued. "People are starting to understand that medical marijuana is a useful tool to relieve suffering and women's suffering from severe menstrual cramps."

So far, only these conditions are eligible for a medical marijuana prescription in New York: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, ALS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington's disease and chronic pain.

While women cannot be prescribed marijuana for cramps yet, Rosenthal is confident the statute will pass. "I think we're a progressive state. It did take 20 years to get medical marijuana to be the law," she told Newsweek, "but we're going to work hard to get it passed."