Medical Marijuana Growing In New Jersey. Cuomo's "Progressive" New York: Not So Much

Things just got a little greener in the Garden State.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services issued a permit to Montclair-based Greenleaf Compassion Center yesterday to begin growing medical marijuana. It's the first "compassion club" in New Jersey to receive a permit since the state's medical marijuana law was signed in 2010.

Here in New York, however -- the "progressive capitol of the nation," according to Governor Andrew Cuomo -- a medical marijuana bill that will be introduced into the Legislature in the next few weeks probably won't see the light of day; Cuomo says he won't consider a medical marijuana bill this year because (he claims) there are "tremendous risks" associated with letting people use marijuana to treat various medical conditions.

We've asked the governor's office on two separate occasions to explain to us what the "tremendous risks" associated with medical marijuana are. The gov's response each time: crickets.

"We are grateful to Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd for getting the program to this important milestone," Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of Drug Policy Alliance -- the group that led the campaign to pass the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act -- says in an email to the Voice. "The patients we work with and represent are ecstatic.  They have waited so long for safe and legal access to medical marijuana and this gives them hope that that wait is coming to an end and relief is in sight."

New Jersey's Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act allows for the licensing of
six Alternative Treatment Centers to grow and dispense medical marijuana to seriously ill patients. As soon as the law is fully implemented, it will allow patients suffering from certain debilitating and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis to use and possess a limited amount of medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

When weighing the pros and cons of medical marijuana for New York, Cuomo might want to consider the story of Don and Gerry McGrath, whose youngest son, Sean, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2004, when he was only 28 years old.

According to the McGraths, Sean's doctors recommended he use marijuana to treat the debilitating pain and nausea he suffered as a result of the disease.

"Words can't express what it was like to watch my son waste away before my eyes, and then on top of that pain, have to deal with feeling like criminals just because Sean used medical marijuana, which helped relieve some of his suffering," the McGrath's say in an email to the Voice. "I'm so grateful that the state finally appears to be moving forward with medical marijuana and that no other family will ever have to go through what my wife Gerry and our family endured."

Again, despite there being overwhelming public support for medical marijuana in New York (anywhere from 60-percent to 80-percent of New Yorkers support medical marijuana, depending on which poll you look at) -- and across the country -- Cuomo won't consider the bill.

See our story on Staten Island state Senator Diane Savino's upcoming medical marijuana bill here. Click here to see our post suggesting that Cuomo refuses to consider medical marijuana legislation because he plans on running for president in 2016 and doesn't want to have to explain on the campaign trail why he's soft on drugs.

We'll let you know if Cuomo's folks ever get back to us about the "tremendous risks" of medical marijuana. 

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