In-line with national trends, the New York State assembly has passed legislation that legalizes medical marijuana prescriptions and usage. The bill must also gain approval from the Senate before it becomes law. Advocates for the bill are especially hopeful that it is passed to help treat children with epilepsy and to relieve pain in individuals who are going through chemotherapy. The Compassionate Care Act passed with a vote of 91-34, creating some pressure on the Senate to pass the bill before the end of the session in June.
Though the medical marijuana bill passed the Senate health committee, it still has to be cleared by a Republican-finance committee. The chairman of the finance committee has not yet indicated whether he would allow the bill to be brought to a vote. This is the fifth time in seven years that the State Assembly passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana so the future is still uncertain. Our Los Angeles medical marijuana attorneys are committed to providing strategic advocacy to clients throughout the region. We are also abreast of legal trends nationwide that reflect our interests in the legalization of marijuana.
New York’s medical marijuana bill allows for individuals with a prescription to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. It also permits organizations to establish dispensaries so that it can be properly distributed to users and caregivers when recommended by certified physicians, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners. Advocates of the bill assert that passage could improve the quality of life for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who are suffering from pain and other preventable symptoms.
Medical marijuana use has been proven to reduce epileptic seizures and to significantly reduce pain for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Despite the benefits of medical marijuana, Republicans in the Senate have been resistant to passing the bill. Though setbacks have stalled or killed previous bills, supporters believe that this year may be different. The new bill appears to have the report of 40 Senators, many of them Republican and narrowly passed the Senate Health Committee. The Republican leader of the Senate has stated that no decision has been made on a vote, but hopefuls believe that the bill could pass before the end of the legislative session.
The proposed legislation is comprehensive than earlier programs that would allow hospitals to dispense patients to marijuana. The new bill would give that right to additional dispensaries. Currently, there are at least 20 states that allow some form of marijuana and others have pending legislation. The debate in New York seems not to be about what the benefits are, but what the potential ramifications are to legalization. In addition to the possible negative side effects, many Assembly members also acknowledged the positive benefits, including increased tax revenues and the creation of jobs throughout the state.
Pending legislation in New York and the swirling debates around medical marijuana use reflect a national conversation about the pros and cons with legalization. Regardless of whether this bill is approved, the conversation will continue in New York and nationwide.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
More Blog Entries Research and Controversy: Medical Marijuana for Sick Children, May 23, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
United States Marijuana Laws Influencing Other Countries, February 14, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog