ALBANY, N.Y. - The New York State Assembly advanced a measure to legalize medical marijuana Monday.
The Compassionate Care Act would allow medical use of marijuana under a doctor's supervision and create one of the nation's most tightly regulated programs.
"It is well documented that medicinal marijuana can be an effective treatment for seriously ill patients when other medications have failed," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said. "It is unacceptable that we continue to criminalize those who would benefit from the use of medicinal marijuana. This legislation creates a carefully controlled system that would give health care practitioners more options to treat their patients and provide seriously ill New Yorkers with the relief that they need."
The Compassionate Care Act would allow medical use of marijuana for patients with cancer or who are suffering from other severely debilitating or life-threatening conditions. The bill would allow a licensed practitioner to certify that a patient has a serious condition (under statutory criteria) for which they are likely to receive palliative or therapeutic benefit from treatment with the medical use of marijuana; permit a certified patient or designated caregiver who is registered with the state Department of Health to possess up to two and one half ounces of marijuana; authorize the DOH to license and regulate "registered organizations and producers" to dispense medical marijuana for certified patients; and require DOH to issue registry identification cards to certified patients and designated caregivers.
"New Yorkers living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses have waited long enough," New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance Gabriel Sayegh said. "This is a simple matter of compassion. This is the fourth time the State Assembly has passed a medical marijuana bill. Now it's long past time for the State Senate to act. The science is clear. The moral and ethical needs are obvious. The only thing holding this up is the Senate. Listen to the science, to healthcare practitioners and to the vast majority of New Yorkers who support this proposal. It's time for the Senate to pass the Compassionate Care Act."
"When it's your child who can't help himself and is literally withering away in pain, you'd do anything to take that pain away," said Geri Barish of Long Island, a cancer survivor whose son used medical marijuana before succumbing to cancer. "When people are suffering, we can at least give them their dignity."