The House version of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, H 3521, emerged from committee today in a landslide 14-3 vote.
Unfortunately, a key deadline has passed, and it’s too late for the medical cannabis bill to become law this year. However, it’s important to remind lawmakers that patients and those who care for them are counting on their support.
There is much to be done before the bill becomes law, but today’s vote marks a big step forward for patients. Both the House and the Senate versions made it through their committees, and the bills were sent to the full bodies in both chambers.
Thank you to bill sponsors, Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy, and the many supporters who have been active behind the scenes and at the hearings, including those who attended an educational symposium for lawmakers yesterday evening.
If you are a South Carolina resident, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support the Compassionate Care Act in the next legislative session.
The Senate’s version of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act passed today in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. Lawmakers on the committee voted 8-6 in favor of sending the amended bill to the floor.
This is a tremendous step forward, but time is short for a vote by the full Senate. Lawmakers only have until April 10 to vote and send the bill to the House before time runs out this year.
The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, introduced last year by Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy, would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it. The Department of Health and Environmental Control would regulate and license medical cannabis cultivation centers, processing facilities, dispensaries, and independent testing laboratories. The department would also issue registration cards to qualifying patients and their caregivers. Patients would not be able to smoke medical cannabis under the bill as amended by the committee. South Carolina would have one of the most carefully regulated programs in the country under this bill.
While it’s unlikely that the Senate will vote on S. 212 before the clock runs out, it’s crucial that senators hear from their constituents while the bill is on the floor. If the bill doesn’t pass this year, we can build momentum for next year.
If you are a South Carolina resident, please send an email to your senators asking them to support S. 212.
On Friday, New York’s Department of Health awarded five organizations licenses allowing them to produce and dispense medical marijuana. Each of the five businesses will be allowed to operate up to four dispensaries within the state and must be doing business within six months.
The companies awarded licenses are Bloomfield Industries Inc., Columbia Care NY, Empire State Health Solutions, Etain, and PharmaCann. They plan to operate dispensaries that will serve only parts of the eastern portion of the state, with the exception of Monroe County, where Columbia Care NY plans to operate a dispensary. The Department of Health selected these five companies out of 43 applicants.
The Compassionate Care Act was signed last summer by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he insisted on revisions that made the program among the most restrictive. Patients may neither smoke marijuana nor cultivate it at home, and several important conditions have been left out of the law. In addition, the number of registered organizations is extremely limited and will force some patients to travel long distances to get their medicine. Patients are in need of medical marijuana and continue to wait for access, but by January, eligible New Yorkers should finally have some legal in-state options for treatment.
Last December, the New York Department of Health released more than a hundred pages of regulations related to the medical marijuana program. Over the past month, advocates for the Compassionate Care Act have voiced major concerns that the regulations are far too restrictive and would leave many patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions without safe, legal access to their medicine. The state is accepting public comments until February 13.
Our allies at Compassionate Care New York, who led the grassroots effort to pass the medical marijuana law, have submitted several pages of comments outlining their concerns. You can read them by clicking on "CCNY Concerns with Draft MMJ Regulations" here. Their major concerns include:
-- A lack of access or accommodation for low-income patients;
-- Too few dispensaries and a ban on delivery services;
-- A prohibition on whole-plant medicine and a ban on edibles, topicals, and other medical preparations; and
-- No clear process for adding more qualifying conditions, even with scientific and medical support.
Please take a look at CCNY’s full comments for an idea of the extensive issues that New York’s medical marijuana program still faces. Don’t forget to submit your own comments to the Department of Health!
On Saturday, July 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law, making New York the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law. The law goes into effect immediately, although patients are not expected to have legal protections or safe access to medical marijuana until 2016.
The law’s passage is the product of many years of work by legislative champions, led by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, and, more recently, Sen. Diane Savino, patients, their loved ones, and advocacy organizations, including MPP and Compassionate Care NY. Thanks to each and every one of you who made this law possible.
While there are many reasons to rejoice, the law is unfortunately much more limited than what was introduced, largely due to amendments Gov. Cuomo insisted upon. Many seriously ill patients will be left behind, at least initially.
Only patients with one of 10 serious conditions will qualify, although the health department is allowed to add qualifying conditions. The law allows far too few dispensaries by providing for no more than five growers, with up to four dispensing locations each. Patients will not be able to smoke cannabis. A summary of the new law is available here.
While this is a vital step forward, the work to ensure that all seriously ill patients who can benefit from medical cannabis have reasonable access to it is not done. Stay tuned for updates on how you can help improve New York’s new medical marijuana program.
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 here for 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.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has had three-and-a-half years to weigh in on New York’s medical marijuana legislation. Instead, he first opposed medical marijuana outright. Then, this January, he proposed an unworkable distraction.
Now, with only three days left until the legislature adjourns, the governor is demanding dozens of revisions to the Compassionate Care Act — including at least one poison pill. Please call Gov. Cuomo’s office now at (518) 474-8390 to tell him it’s time to stop stalling. Let him know it’s past time he stand with the 80% of voters who support a compassionate and workable program.
With the clock running out, Cuomo has failed to provide language for his proposed changes, which is necessary for them to be incorporated. In addition, several of his amendments are unreasonable. Gov. Cuomo says he won’t even consider signing a bill unless it:
* Requires doctors to specify dosage -- which would put them in danger under federal law -- and re-issue certifications every 30 days;
* Further restricts qualifying conditions, which are already far more restrictive than most medical marijuana states;
* Prohibits the smoking of medical marijuana; and
* Initially allows only five producers, each of which would have four locations, to serve the state.
UPDATE: The New York Senate has introduced the bill with only some of the amendments requested by Gov. Cuomo. Many others were rightly rejected.
The Marijuana Policy Project launched two hard-hitting television ads Thursday that urge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and State Senate Majority Co-Leader Dean Skelos to support the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
The New York State Assembly approved the Compassionate Care Act Tuesday (91-34) for the fifth time since 2007. Gov. Cuomo has not expressed support for the measure, and in previous years, Senate leaders have not allowed it to receive a vote on the Senate floor.
Today, the Senate Health Committee will vote on Sen. Diane Savino’s medical marijuana bill. This will be the first time since 2010 that a Senate committee has voted on the Compassionate Care Act, which has already been approved by the Assembly four times. If the bill passes the Senate Health Committee, it must pass at least one more committee vote before heading to the full Senate.
Thousands of New Yorkers continue to suffer needlessly because they cannot safely access medical marijuana, including children enduring hundreds of debilitating seizures daily. Get to know some of these children by watching this video produced by our allies at “NY Parents for Legalizing MMJ.”
The Compassionate Care Act would provide safe, legal access to medical marijuana for thousands of patients. An overwhelming 88% of New Yorkers support allowing medical marijuana.