A Medical Marijuana Law Gains Momentum in Albany

A Medical Marijuana Law Gains Momentum in Albany
Posted by CN Staff on June 11, 2007 at 20:55:47 PT
By Jacob Gershman, Staff Reporter of the Sun
Source: New York Sun
Albany, NY -- Following in the footsteps of Connecticut's Legislature, New York State lawmakers are expected to approve legislation allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.The Democrat-led Assembly could pass a medical marijuana bill as early as this week, according to the bill's main sponsor. The Republican-led Senate is expected to follow suit, lawmakers said.
It's not clear if Governor Spitzer would support the bill. As a candidate last year, Mr. Spitzer said he was opposed to the legalization of medical marijuana, but a spokeswoman for the governor indicated yesterday that he has not ruled out signing such a bill."We know that the issue is being discussed by the Legislature and a variety of proposals have been discussed," a spokeswoman for Mr. Spitzer, Christine Anderson, said via e-mail. "If they pass a bill, we'll obviously take a look at it."Governor Rell of Connecticut, who is considering a medical marijuana bill that lawmakers sent to her desk earlier this month, has also given mixed signals about her position. She has said it's important to help seriously ill people alleviate their pain, but has expressed fear that legalizing the drug would undermine the message that recreational use of marijuana is dangerous.New York would be the 13th state to approve a medical marijuana program and the fifth state to approve the use of the substance through legislative action. Eight states have permitted medical marijuana by voter referendum.In 2005, New York lawmakers came close to approving a medical marijuana law. They backed off after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government can prohibit doctors from prescribing the drug. Since the ruling, states have increasingly reasserted their right to permit use of the drug under certain conditions.New York is moving closer to legalizing medical marijuana at a time when the movement appears to be gaining momentum.In the last two months, in addition to the legislative action in Connecticut, New Mexico became the 12th state to legalize medical marijuana; Vermont lawmakers voted to broaden their program, and Rhode Island lawmakers passed a bill making the state's medical marijuana law permanent, and are expected to override Governor Carcieri's veto."The issue has just started to reach critical mass," a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, Bruce Mirken, said. "There's a growing awareness among politicians that's it's not a scary issue."The bill introduced in the Assembly is similar to Rhode Island's law. It would allow the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 12 plants by a certified patient or designated caregiver.Patients would be barred from purchasing marijuana and smoking it in public places. A doctor could certify the use of marijuana for up to one-year intervals to a patient suffering from a life-threatening condition. The doctor could certify the drug only if he or she believed that it would be more effective than other drugs.Critics of medical marijuana say the dangers of using the drug outweigh any medical benefits. Opponents also argue that there are available legal medicines that could offer similar relief. There is a fear among some critics that legalizing the drug would make it easily available to people who are not authorized to use it and would make the drug seem safe."I think it's wrong," the chairman of the Conservative Party of New York, Michael Long, said. "I don't think there's any way to keep track of what's going on. Who's to say that marijuana is not being picked up by teenagers in the house?"Supporters contend that marijuana can offer relief to people suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Crohn's disease, hepatitis-C, and multiple sclerosis. The prohibition, they say, hasn't stopped sick people from seeking the drug but has driven up the cost, meaning they have to spend hundreds of dollars to obtain just one ounce.They also argue that the drug is especially beneficial to sick people who don't respond well to other medication and that smoking the plant is more effective than taking the synthetic and legal pill version made with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana."It's humane, and it's good medicine," a Democratic assemblyman of Manhattan who is the lead sponsor of the bill in the chamber, Richard Gottfried, said. "There are thousands of New Yorkers who suffer from serious medical conditions who could have a better quality and longer life."A Senate Republican who in previous years has sponsored medical marijuana bills in the chamber, Vincent Leibell, said he's optimistic that the house would back a marijuana bill, although one with a different wording from the Assembly version."I believe there's support there," he said.Mr. Leibell said it's likely that he would put forward a bill when the Assembly votes on its version. The Senate majority leader, Joseph Bruno, who is a survivor of prostate cancer, has said he supports legalizing marijuana. Source: New York Sun, The (NY)Author: Jacob Gershman, Staff Reporter of the SunPublished: June 12, 2007 EditionCopyright: 2007 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC. Contact: editor nysun.comWebsite: Policy Project Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #21 posted by mayan on June 13, 2007 at 03:55:02 PT
Deadly $2 heroin targets teens:
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Comment #20 posted by afterburner on June 12, 2007 at 22:47:46 PT
Free the Benign Plant. Save the Planet.
"The destructive failure of the drug war is why it makes so much sense to let states experiment, which 11 of them have done with medical marijuana."Legalizing only medical marijuana brings its own problems. For one thing, it invites state authorities to monitor the practice of medicine to make sure doctors don't prescribe pot promiscuously."But government officials shouldn't be the judges of what is and isn't medicine. That should be left to medical researchers, doctors, and patients. The effectiveness of medicine is too dependent on individual circumstances and biochemistry. One size does not fit all, so politicians and bureaucrats should butt out."More fundamentally, why should only people whom the state defines as sick be able to use marijuana? This is supposed to be a free country, and in a free country adults should have the right to ingest whatever they want. A drug user who harms someone else should be punished, but a peaceful user should be left alone." --Big, Big Government
by John Stossel - co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20"
Jan 31, 2007. More ...
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on June 12, 2007 at 20:20:51 PT
That is great. I like him. I like just about all of them that are running. They all have their good points. 
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on June 12, 2007 at 19:06:09 PT
Off Topic
They are showing a concert of Neil Young on VH1 Classic. I thought some might want to check it out. It started at 10. It reminds me of Massey Hall. It's good. 
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Comment #17 posted by charmed quark on June 12, 2007 at 18:22:41 PT
New York law
One the one hand I'm surprised by this. I didn't even know NY was considering such a bill. On the other hand, I agree with Sam Adams. This bill is a lot like the medical marijuana laws passed in the 70s that were so restrictive no one ever used them. According to this article, the illness has to be life threatening AND the physician has to say he believes no other drug would work better. High hurdles.I am confused, though. MS was listed as one of the diseases it would cover and MS, while it can be debilitating, is not normally directly life threatening.BTW - NJ has had a pretty decent bill stuck in committee for over a year. Corzine, the governor, has already said he would sign such a law.
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Comment #16 posted by mayan on June 12, 2007 at 18:09:41 PT
New York is moving closer to legalizing medical marijuana at a time when the movement appears to be gaining momentum.The north-east is really kickin' butt right now. The mid-west will be next. The south will be the last stronghold for the prohibitionists. This is kinda' frightening considering the momentum we had right before 9/11. I've been hearing a lot of the talking heads on the tube saying that it's only a matter of time before we get hit by "Al-Qaida" again and that the next attack will be even bigger. I fear for our lives.THE WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...Heroes for 9/11 Truth, for Peace, for Impeachment: Activism Machine, DOWNSIZEDC.ORG, To Tackle 9/11 Truth With New Campaign: & Brownback face Bermas on Pakistan & 911 (video): 9/11 Documentary: Zeitgeist- Part 2 (video): Truth Squads: WAS AN INSIDE JOB - OUR NATION IS IN PERIL:
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Comment #15 posted by RevrayGreen on June 12, 2007 at 18:06:22 PT
I get to meet
Bill Richardson next week, 6/22 when he come to the campaign headquarters in DSM.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on June 12, 2007 at 18:04:21 PT
I really like Bill Richardson. He makes me smile. He reminds me of John Belushi and I keep waiting for Governor Richardson to do some silly stunt like Belushi did.Seriously though I don't think being a President is as important as some other areas of government. Bill Richardson is a doer. He wouldn't like constraints but he could do so much more with his long resume as long as a Democrat wins the Presidency..
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Comment #13 posted by Dankhank on June 12, 2007 at 17:25:21 PT
Bill ... redux
a new alternet story on our favorite NM governor.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on June 12, 2007 at 17:04:37 PT
Tuesday in Albany Includes Medical Marijuana
Tuesday in Albany Includes Medical Marijuana, Regional Aid
 June 12, 2007
 Here's a roundup of action at the state Capitol Tuesday: THE CHANGE: Spitzer warms to medical marijuana measure. THE ISSUE: A proposal would allow physicians under as yet undetermined conditions prescribe limited amounts of marijuana to combat the symptoms associated with AIDS, cancer and their treatment. Lawmakers, however, are still working on bills to see if they can agree on one version. THE QUOTE: "There was a moment during the (campaign) debate last summer where I think I spoke more negatively of it based on what I understood the medical considerations to be," said Spitzer, a former prosecutor. "We've taken a hard look at it over the past number of months and I'm open to signing a bill that is properly structured for appropriate use based upon the evidence that's been presented to me." "On many issues hopefully you learn, you study, you evolve," Spitzer said. URL:
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on June 12, 2007 at 09:56:53 PT
Marijuana Jokes?  Farm Aid NYC
June 12, 2007Country and city will converge as American farmers get support from a Farm Aid benefit concert held in New York - taking place on Randall's Island this September 9th. The announcement came yesterday from Farm Aid co-founders Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, along with Mayor Bloomberg. The press conference came after the trio chuckled over marijuana jokes (seriously) and chowed down on some fresh produce in the market.
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on June 12, 2007 at 09:48:57 PT
Storm Crow I think you're definitely onto something. The pendulum swings too hard to the right and then it comes back & you get Jimmy Carter. I think it may turn out that silver lining of the terrible destruction of the Iraq "War" maybe be that it put Democrats back in power here, which may end up saving the world from Global Warming. I hope so! I doubt that they'll pull us out of Iraq, it looks like "we" will be there for decades to come.It looks more & more like the Republican party may implode.  The evangelical Christians that they built their base on may just destroy the party. The only candidates they'll approve of are radicals that won't get elected.For someone who has been worrying about global warming since the 70's, the last few years have indeed been encouraging. Even China and India are starting to indicate that they may come around and join the next version of the Kyoto treaty in 2009. It all come down to "us". If we agree to an emissions, cap, China and India will follow. China and India are basically the same economy as us. The same corporations are profiting from all 3 countries.
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Comment #9 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 12, 2007 at 08:52:09 PT
Storm Crow
As the old farts die off, so does their way of thinking.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on June 12, 2007 at 08:39:28 PT
One More Comment
I turned off the news and put on the DVD of Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions and it gives me such hope for a better tomorrow. Happy poor people can do so much if they just try.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on June 12, 2007 at 08:32:25 PT
Storm Crow 
I can't resist saying this!Amen Sister!
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Comment #6 posted by Storm Crow on June 12, 2007 at 08:30:01 PT
Remember how.....
The hippie movement (and a lot of other things) spread? California, then up the coast, then the east coast, and finally the whole country...sound similar? Our country goes through "repressive" (conformity, war, industrial/science) and "liberalizing" cycles (free-thinking, prosperity, art and science). I consider the upswing in "medical use" legalization, bush's "popularity", growing ecological awareness, etc. as very "liberalized" things- so hopefully, the pendulum is beginning to swing. I wonder what the new "young liberal" will be? A Neo-hippie? An Ecologian? A Simplist? Whatever they are called, with a lot of us "crazy old hippies" still kicking, it ought to be interesting! (Hopefully, we can keep them away from some of our bigger mistakes- the kids will make their own mistakes.)
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on June 12, 2007 at 08:00:46 PT
somewhat disappointing
It looks like this bill will only help patients with a life-threatening disease. So basically the politicians are saying, if you're dying you can use it. If you're just suffering terrible pain, you can go on suffering, tough sh*tIt's hard for me to get exciting over these bills. Yes, they represent progress. But we passed dozens of bill in the 80s and early 90s that were totally useless. Now, 20 years later, we're moved up to passing bills that only help a few hundred people out of several million. I just worry that at this rate, it'll be 50 more years before everyone that needs the herb can get it safely.  It looks like the strategy with these bills is mostly to pressue the Feds to refom. I hope it works.
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Comment #4 posted by John Tyler on June 12, 2007 at 06:03:24 PT
Looks like the medical marijuana is building up some momentum. Iím glad to see some of the politicians that were so against it are now having a change of heart. New York is a big state with a lot of voters and a lot of electoral votes and can take the lead without much political fallout. I hope that New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware will follow New York and New Englandís lead.   
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on June 12, 2007 at 05:27:51 PT
Medical Pot Weeds Way Thru Albany 
Tuesday, June 12th 2007
    ALBANY - After years of debate, both houses of the Legislature are on the brink of legalizing medical marijuana, the Daily News learned last night."I'm very optimistic the bill will pass both houses and go to the governor within the next 10 days," Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) said.Gov. Spitzer, after flatly stating last year as a candidate he opposed medical marijuana, is now open to the legislation, aides said.Under the measure, to acquire marijuana a person would have to have a debilitating or life-threatening illness and would need a doctor's note certifying that marijuana would be beneficial.Those individuals would be limited to possessing no more than 2Ĺ ounces of cultivated pot or 12 growing plants.Snipped:Complete Article:
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Comment #2 posted by OverwhelmSam on June 12, 2007 at 04:53:27 PT
Wow! The Senate Majority Leader of New York
"The Senate majority leader, Joseph Bruno, who is a survivor of prostate cancer, has said he supports legalizing marijuana."Wow! Joe supports legalizing marijuana. Let's keep this man in office."The times, they are a changing." ~Bob DylanDylan, one of my childhood heros. 
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on June 12, 2007 at 04:44:11 PT
As far as racing...
As much as this is a race to become the next state to re-legalize cannabis use for sick humans,It looks like New York is suddenly a contender and Connecticut better not snooze.Of course, We welcome the whole family of states...-00-New York,stop caging sick people for using the God-given SUPER plant.
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