NY Medical Marijuana Supporters Wonder if Time Has Come

New Jersey added a new herb to its state garden last Tuesday when Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Acton his last day in office.

But though 14 states have now legalized medical marijuana, New York, which has relatively liberal possession laws and actually passed a medical-marijuana law in 1980 but never put it to use, remains forbidden ground for those who seek to relieve their symptoms with cannabis. This year, however, supporters of medical marijuana in Albany and elsewhere hope to harness what they see as growing momentum.

Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, the Health Committee chairman and a nearly annual sponsor of medical marijuana legislation, said that he hoped this year’s bill would reach the floor in the next few weeks and that both houses would pass it by March, before they get tied up with the state budget.

An almost identical bill has been proposed in the Senate, sponsored byThomas K. Duane, the Senate Health Committee chairman. Each bill would allow the use of marijuana to “treat a serious illness under medical supervision,” such as cancer, arthritis or H.I.V./AIDS.

“I think that the main obstacle over the years has been the fear of many in public life to touch anything with drugs,” Mr. Gottfried said. “But I think the climate around the states has changed.” He referred to the new laws in a handful of states, as well as to the reversal in longstanding federal policy in October, when the Justice Department stopped pursuing and prosecuting users or providers of medical marijuana who were complying with state laws.

“What is often surprising is that people tend to assume it’s a controversial bill, and that’s been an obstacle,” Mr. Gottfried said. “But other than the state Conservative Party, there has been little to no resistance. Even public opinion polls show overwhelming support.”

Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos, said that the issue had not come up recently and had not on been on the Senate’s radar. Several Republican senators have quietly expressed support for medical marijuana, said Gabriel Sayegh, a project director for the Drug Policy Alliance Network, which works to promote medical marijuana laws.

Michael R. Long, the chairman of New York State’s Conservative Party, said that while he was not currently working with any organizations to block the bill, he firmly believed that passing the legislation would send the wrong signal to young people, especially in the face of the antismoking campaigns and taxes on sugared drinks.

“And especially when there is no medical proof that marijuana assists anyone anyway,” Mr. Long said. “It would open the floodgates for misuse.”

In 1980, the Legislature and Gov. Hugh L. Carey enacted a medical marijuana law in New York. But the law required that a state review board be set up to rule on doctors’ requests to prescribe marijuana, and one was never appointed.

In this century, medical marijuana bills have been introduced several times. Two passed the Assembly with bipartisan support, but stalled in the Senate. Last year’s version was derailed during the Senate stalemate in Albany in June.

Some Republicans who favor legalizing marijuana for medical purposes areagainst the idea of allowing patients and caregivers to grow their own, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

Others have looked with concern at California, where the state has had difficulties restricting the sale and cultivation of marijuana after its law was passed in 1996. There, local governments have had to step in because of public safety issues, as well as unintended effects that some say have a provided legal shield for commercial growers. Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council moved to shutter most of the city’s thousand-plus marijuana dispensaries.

To make the law more palatable to skeptics, Mr. Gottfried said, this year’s legislation allows registered patients to obtain at most only most 2.5 ounces of the drug from state-licensed entities, which would be overseen by the state’s Department of Health.

While Gov. David A. Paterson has not announced his position on the bill, he made his views on the issue known in a Rolling Stone article last year. “Our society is odd because we have this contempt for marijuana smoking,” he said. “Meanwhile, people have access to pharmaceutical products that are just destroying them.”

Other supporters of medical marijuana in New York include the Medical Society of the State of New Yorkthe New York State Nurse’s Associationthe Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York, the StateWide Senior Action Council and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

“If New York doesn’t pass medical marijuana legislation,” said Mr. Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance Network, “it has everything to do with the dysfunction in Albany.”

– Article from New York Times.

Comments

7 Comments

  1. WAKE UP on

    New Yorkers, please dont be fooled by the bullshit going on in albany. They are trying to pass a restrictive bill that shows absolutly no compassion for the patients whom its designed to help. The powers that be understand public opion is changing drastically in NY on medical marijuana(70%) So they are trying to pass a HIGHLEY restrictive bill. Please dont be fooled by NJ’s bill as its being sold to the public. It is not the “model bill” for states looking to adpot compasionate use laws. This law is a special interest, LEO invested, state run monopoly on medical, and criminal marijuana. They tell us in NY that they need to take patients right to their own medication, and knowing whats in it, all to gain support from republicans. I have news for you, Its all bullshit. The dems had control of the senate for the first 6 monthes until a power struggle broke out, now once again the control the state senate. They dont need republicans to pass the bill. It basically comes down to law enforcement giving politicians millions of dollars in campaign funds just so long as they stay tuff on drugs, and keep making new laws. Restricting the growing of MMJ is just a small part of that. Now what can you do? If your in NY get over to the NYNormal website, and download the petition and start getting signatures. Its directly to Gov Patterson, and hes made his views clear in the past. He thinks alcohol is much worse that marijuana, and judging by his past im sure hes had a smoke or two. Please get as many signatures signed and returned, and well have a just, fair mmj law in the empire state, which is LONG overdue for MMJ law reform. Is there anything that can be done to revive the law past in 1980? NY is too libral and progressive to be lagging so far behind on this one.

  2. Anonymous on

    he says that cannabis never helped anybody..
    how come it is in the medical journals that it does?
    how come nurses support it and doctors.
    how come there are studies to show it does have an effect.
    do we really think they would allow the stuff for medical use if it had none?
    med pot passes because it does have an effect.

    you get a reaction. you get high. it feels better than being sick. it helps in that way and alone that should even be enough.
    whats a happy pill being illegal if you cant use pot to become happier.

    it reduces nausea, aid wasting syndrome. gives chemo patiients an appetite so they can eat and begin to nourish their bodies so they have some chance…
    reduces pain levels.

    people that go around saying cannabis has no medical use should quickly be grilled publicly because it is lies and it helps people to make a badly informed opinion.

    on top of that it will mean that some that may benefit will not go down that pathway for thinking it does not work. when your terminally ill this becomes a big problem when some people choose to lie.

  3. Anonymous on

    Marc sells stuff because he is a businessman who has employees, taxes, utility bills and rent to pay. Probably just like your sorry ass! You shouldn’t write anything if you’re just planning on advertising how stupid and idiotic you are.

  4. Anonymous on

    Thats why also ALL clinls are MOVING OUTSIDE L.A. City and COUNTY BY 2011. The city people just had to lay off 1,000 workers in this city, but the sale tax alone whould have payed for not 1,000 workers, but, 12,000 city workers!!But we are leaving and L.A. just like the new york can turn into a ghost towns for all we care. Just like Vancouver will be! BOYCOTT!! Corp. WORLD GAMES!!! Take that monies and help the cause loacly for you your children and friends!! Besides where MARC going he wont need money, so why sell stuff marc? Is it the GREED coming to the surface??

  5. Anonymous on

    Where does ANYONE whos a reporter for the NEW YORK TIMES!, …Know anything about Canabis?? Fuck this writer and THE NEW YORK TIMES!! Mouth of the MAYORS PAPER!! This rag def.!! needs to be added to the BOYCOTT LIST and soon!

  6. Matthew Meyer on

    Ridiculous how the text takes NIMBY attitudes in California and turns them into verified problems: “…the state has had difficulties restricting the sale and cultivation of marijuana…” and “local governments have had to step in because of public safety issues.” Had to step in, huh?