Last Friday, after days of intense negotiation and more than a decade of advocacy, the Assembly and Senate voted to approve a limited medical marijuana program. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already agreed to sign this bill, which includes several revisions he insisted upon. Finally, New York will be the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law.
Click herefor a summary of the Compassionate Care Act.
Access to medical marijuana literally means the difference between life and death for many seriously ill patients. While this new law represents a hard-fought victory and a long overdue step forward for New York, the bill is far from perfect. Unfortunately, due to the compromises with the governor’s office, many patients will still be left behind. But, together with our local allies, including the Drug Policy Alliance and Compassionate Care NY, who led recent lobbying efforts in the state, we will not give up on improving the law.
If you have any questions about how the new law may affect you or your loved ones, please join Compassionate Care NY this Wednesday at 6 p.m. for a campaign call. You must register here to attend.
The good news is we will get a vote thanks to two courageous senators who are taking a stand for medical marijuana patients and respecting state laws. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are sponsoring an amendment identical to the one that passed in the House last month. The amendment was filed yesterday and could be voted on at any time.
New York Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) claims she has rallied enough votes to pass SB 4406, which legalizes medical marijuana. Thirty-nine senators, seven more than what is needed to pass the bill, have pledged their support.
However, gathering this support has come at a price. Three significant changes differentiate the current bill from the original.
First, physicians are limited to recommending medical marijuana for only 20 conditions. Secondly, the bill would create an advisory committee to recommend additions to the list of qualifying conditions. This board could also hear appeals for individual patients who fall outside of the list. Lastly, people under 21 would not be permitted to smoke marijuana as a treatment; they would be restricted to ingesting or vaporizing.
Other details of the bill include required medical marijuana cards for patients, a limit of up to 2.5 ounces per 30-day supply, and the dispensaries would have to pay taxes to the state.
According to the New York Daily News, it looks like the Senate’s Health Committee will take up the bill at noon on Tuesday.
On Tuesday evening, the Minnesota Senate approved the medical marijuana bill with a veto-proof majority vote, 48-18. The legislation, authored by Sen. Scott Dibble, now crosses over to the House for consideration. If you are a Minnesota resident, please call and then emailyour state representative to ask him or her to vote “yes” on compassionate and workable medical marijuana legislation today!
An overwhelming and diverse majority of Minnesotans support polices that allow the terribly ill to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. Continuing to punish the sick for using marijuana is cruel, and spending millions on a study that would only bring relief for a select few is wasteful.
A new proposal has been put forth in the Minnesota House of Representatives to gut the existing medical marijuana bill and replace it with language that would only allow for clinical trials for medical marijuana. While it’s heartening to know lawmakers are working on the issue, this proposal would not provide any patients with the medicine they need. Among its other flaws, federal law would preempt it by requiring the health department to contract with a marijuana manufacturer. If you are a Minnesota resident, please contact your lawmakers NOWand ask them to support a workable medical program similar to the laws in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
The clinical study amendment to H.F. 1818 was offered on the heels of the Senate medical marijuana bill clearing yet another legislative hurdle. Fortunately, the Senate proposal, which will be heard tomorrow in the Senate finance committee, would create a workable program that would protect seriously ill Minnesotans from arrest and prosecution for using marijuana with the recommendations of their doctors. It would also create a regulated medical marijuana dispensary program to provide safe and immediate access to that medicine.