|Montel Williams: "Every day that we delay is another day of needless suffering for patients like me all across the state"|
Former talk show host and U.S. Navy officer and current New York City resident Montel Williams on Tuesday urged Governor David Paterson and members of the Legislature to act quickly in order to pass New York's medical marijuana bill.
Williams spoke at a press conference in Albany. He uses medical marijuana to help ease the effects of his multiple sclerosis.
According to supporters, the New York bill would create one of the best-regulated systems in the country for providing seriously ill patients with safe and effective access to medical marijuana.
"New York needs to act now to make marijuana legally available for medical use. Every day that we delay is another day of needless suffering for patients like me all across the state," Williams said.
|Photo: Cure Or Care?|
|Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried: "Thousands of New Yorkers suffer from serious medical conditions that could benefit from the medical use of marijuana"|
"Thousands of New Yorkers suffer from serious medical conditions that could benefit from the medical use of marijuana," said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and sponsor of the Assembly medical marijuana bill.
"If the patient and the doctor agree that the most effective medicine is marijuana, the government should not stand in the way," Gottfried said. "It is cruel to turn suffering patients into criminals when they are following what their doctor recommends."
"Medical use of marijuana for patients with acute conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma relieves chronic pain and nausea and increases appetite," said Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn), a former New York City police captain.
"When our fellow humans are burdened by the dire effects of life-threatening illnesses, we must not allow insubstantial ideological arguments to increase their suffering," Adams said. "The proposed medical marijuana legislation contains the critical safeguards needed to guard against diversion or abuse and establish access for patients in need.
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|Sen. Eric Adams: "Any other substance shown to have such beneficial effect would already be in the arsenal of medical practitioners"|
"It is our moral and ethical duty to alleviate misery in our fellow human beings," Adams said. "Any other substance shown to have such beneficial effect would already be in the arsenal of medical practitioners. I wholeheartedly urge passage of this legislation."
Also joining Williams was Craig Burridge, executive director of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY). PSSNY recently came out in support of New York's medical marijuana bill.
"New York has the opportunity to provide a model on how to mainstream medical marijuana to those patients who so desperately need it," Burridge said. "For those of us who have seen the suffering of a loved one, passage is long overdue."
The New York bill would:
• Allow patients facing serious, life-threatening or debilitating illnesses to get marijuana upon the recommendation of their physician.
• Limit patient possession to no more than 2.5 ounces.
• Grant the Department of Health the authority to license medical marijuana producers and dispensers, consistent with rules mirroring the state Controlled Substances Act.
• Allow the Department of Health to establish fees sufficient to cover the cost of administering the program.
• Allow state-licensed organizations, including pharmacies, to dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients.
• Allow state-licensed organizations to produce marijuana for sale to dispensaries only.
Since 1996, 14 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws. More than a dozen state legislatures considered the issue this year, and in November, citizens of Arizona and South Dakota will vote on medical marijuana ballot initiatives.
Under New York's bill, the state department of health would play an active role in regulating dispensaries that would be licensed to provide medical marijuana to qualified patients.