Hempire State of Mind: Where Leaders Stand on Medical Marijuana in NY
On Wednesday, a group of New York State lawmakers held a press conference, where they announced that a new medical marijuana bill has made its way through the health committee and will soon go up for vote in the Assembly. Similar versions of the bill, which would allow patients suffering from “serious, debilitating or life-threatening” illnesses to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, have been passed twice in the Assembly, but have never passed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
However, there’s reason to believe this year could be different. For one, public resistance to medical marijuana has dropped. A Siena Research Institute poll released Wednesday says 57 percent of New York State voters support it. Connecticut’s legislature passed a medical marijuana bill, which was sponsored by a Republican in the Senate, earlier this month, and New Jersey issued its first permit for a medical marijuana dispensary in April.
And on March 16, New York State Supreme Court Judge Gustin L. Reichbach wrote an op-ed in the New York Timesabout his own marijuana use during his struggle with cancer.
As the debate over medical marijuana in New York State heats up, MetroFocuslooked at some of the key power players.
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan)
The takeaway: Gottfried, chairman of the Assembly’s Heath Committee since 1987, has been pushing medical marijuana bills in the Assembly for over a decade, to no avail. However, Gottfried says that four out of seven of the committee’s Republican members support the bill that he introduced in April. Gottfried hasn’t come close to passing a medical marijuana bill since 2005 — the last year the bill had a Republican co-sponsor — but now Gottfried has a new partner in State Senator Diane Savino. At Wednesday’s press conference, Gottfried stressed that New York’s medical marijuana law would be one of the most heavily regulated in the U.S., unlike laws in California and Colorado where people with non-life threatening illnesses can easily obtain prescriptions.
Munchies for thought: “Thousands of New Yorkers suffer from serious debilitating and life-threatening conditions whose lives could be made more livable and longer in many cases if we allow them to be treated under medical supervision with the use of medical marijuana.” – May 16, 2012, reported by the Democrat and Chronicle.