Healthcare

Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Assembly — But Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, New York

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A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in New York passed in the Assembly yesterday, but don’t go making up any ailments that qualify you for a weed prescription just yet; Governor Buzz Kill ain’t gonna sign it — even if it does find its way to his desk.

The bill would legalize prescription weed for people suffering from “serious debilitating or life-threatening conditions.” If the bill becomes law, New York — the state Governor Andrew Cuomo says should be the “progressive capitol of the nation” — would become the 17th state to legalize marijuana for medical use.

“If the patient and physician agree that the patient’s serious
debilitating or life-threatening condition should be treated with
medical marijuana, the government should not stand in the way,”
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried — the chairman of the Assembly’s Health
Committee, who introduced the bill (for the 17th time) — says. “It is cruel to deny treatment to patients who are
suffering
or to turn them into criminals.”

Under the proposed law, a licensed health care professional who is authorized
to prescribe controlled substances would “certify the patient’s need
for marijuana for treatment of a serious debilitating or
life-threatening condition.” The certified “patient” would then
registers with the Department of Health, and the weed would be purchased
from a specially registered and regulated hospital or pharmacy.

According to Gottfried, New York’s medical marijuana law “would be one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the
country.” He says “it is modeled on the law we apply to highly
dangerous and addictive drugs like morphine or oxycodone, but even
tighter.” In other words, New York wouldn’t become California — the poster state for flawed medical marijuana policy.

“To watch someone you love fight to live through the agony of the pain
without any relief is too hard to bear. Medical marijuana can help ease
this suffering,” Geri Barish — a Nassau County cancer survivor and
mother whose son used medical marijuana before he succumbed to cancer — says.
“Knowing that a doctor could provide safe and legal access to medical
marijuana in a controlled environment will give patients with severe
illnesses in New York State hope.”

The bill has the support of more than 50 state legislators, and the vast majority of New Yorkers are OK with medical marijuana (80-percent of New Yorkers support medical marijuana, according
to a Zogby poll
)

“This is sensible, strict, and humane legislation. The fact that
Arizona, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Jersey and over a dozen
other states allow this while it’s still illegal in New York is
political correctness run amok, at the expense of the suffering of
thousands of New Yorkers,” Gottfried added.

As we mentioned, even if the bill clears the state Senate, Cuomo
won’t sign it — despite his advocating for the decriminalization of
“public view” marijuana possession (more on that here).

Cuomo said earlier this year that he’s “studying” the pros
and cons of medical marijuana, but that there isn’t enough time this year for the
Legislature to fine-tune the
bill into something he’d
consider signing (we suspect Cuomo’s stance on medical weed has
something to do with his presidential ambitions. More on that here).

“There are tremendous risks,” the governor told reporters in April. “I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point.”

We asked the governor’s office what “risks” he was referring to. We were given no answer. More on that here.

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