Although the battle is far from over, this could end up being the year that New York finally legalizes medical marijuana. This possibility will take its first big step towards reality tomorrow, when New York’s Assembly Health Committee is expected to vote on Assembly Bill 6357, the Compassionate Care Act. The measure would authorize doctors to give recommendations to qualified patients, who would be allowed to legally posses up to 2.5 ounces. The Department of Health is directed to issue licenses to those who receive recommendations from their physician.
In addition, the Health Department would be responsible for handling regulations and licensing for safe access points that would distribute marijuana to registered patients. Caregivers would also be allowed to purchase and posses marijuana, if it’s for a qualified patient, and not for personal consumption.
We spoke briefly with one of the bill’s two sponsors, Senator Diane Savino, who told us that she would be “quite surprised” if the measure didn’t pass out of committee – though of course anything can happen (signs are good, as typically committees won’t hold a vote on a measure they don’t have the votes to pass – she believes a vote will occur soon). Senator Savina will be holding a press conference about the bill tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. in Albany, with the bill’s other sponsor Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.
The New York Assembly has thrice approved similar measures over the past 5 years, which have all failed to become law. The measure once again faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, and the state’s governor doesn’t support medical marijuana (though that’s different than taking the action of vetoing it – he’s stated that he understands it has benefits), but with growing momentum for reform both in the state and across the nation, the outlook looks better than ever.
Those in New York should call their state’s legislature and governor, urging them to support medical marijuana – you can call them at the following numbers (you can also look up your legislators by clicking here): Senate: 518-455-2800, Assembly: 518-455-4218, Governor: 518-474-8390.