By Matthew Taub
Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn Brief
The Empire State may soon join over 20 other jurisdictions in the country that have embraced medical marijuana, lending critical relief to chronically-injured patients.
The New York State Senate is now deliberating a bill that easily passed in the State Assembly last month. Negotiations are sensitive and ongoing, but passage appears to be within reach. The Governor is likely to sign any proposed legislation into law, despite professed reservations, sources say.
“It’s looking good,” a source working on the legislation tells Brooklyn Brief, who did not wish to be named due to the sensitive and ongoing nature of the negotiations. “We believe it will be taken up right before the end of the legislative session and we’re hopeful it will pass.”
For over a decade, patients’ right advocates, libertarians, and drug reform activists in New York have pushed for the legislature to embrace such a law. On May 27th, the State Assembly passed a medical marijuana bill for the fifth time in history (but prior passages were never considered by the Senate).This time, the bill passed by a wide margin of 91–34 and, after a false start, the State Senate began to actively consider the bill.
Known as the Compassionate Care Act, the bill would provide relief for thousands of New York patients suffering from serious and debilitating conditions, such as cancer, MS, and epilepsy, by allowing the use of medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider. According to a recent poll by the Siena Research Institute, New Yorkers strongly support legalizing medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious illness.
The issue might be what medical conditions make the cut.
“The Senate might be putting together a list of what type of specific illnesses will warrant medical marijuana,” the source said. “This list will most likely be the negotiating portion.”
Other outlets have reported that three-way talks between the Assembly, Senate, and Governor Cuomo have already commenced. Other possible sticking points include the level of training required for health care providers and security measures to keep the supply from flowing into the illegal drug trade.
The Governor, for his part, has professed his support for the “overall effort” on medical marijuana legislation, but on a radio broadcast today, indicated that “it makes law enforcement very nervous” and “there are questions that have to be answered.”
Currently, twenty one states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical marijuana for treating a broad range of medical conditions. Minnesota recently passed legislation allowing medical marijuana and now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.
The bill that passed in New York’s State Assembly is A6357-2013; the pending Senate version is S4406A-2013.
Brooklyn Brief and/or the Brooklyn Daily Eagle will continue to follow the legislation and provide updates.