N.Y. Patients Call On Governor To Include Marijuana In Budget


Photo: Matt Deturck/Rochester City Newspaper

​Chronically ill patients from across New York state gathered in Albany on Tuesday to make a final plea for Gov. David Paterson and the Legislature to include a compassionate medical marijuana program in the state’s budget.

An overwhelming 71 percent of New York voters think medical marijuana laws are a “good idea,” according to a February 4 Quinnipiac University poll.

On Monday, the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York became the latest state health group to endorse New York’s medical marijuana bill.
“Lawmakers need to stop playing games while patients’ lives hang in the balance and include medical marijuana in the budget,” said Richard Williams, a Richmondville, N.Y., resident who suffers from HIV and hepatitis C.
“I have found marijuana to be the best available treatment for the joint damage, nausea and appetite loss caused by my HIV medication, but I am forced to break state law and become a criminal if I seek such relief,” Williams said. “Along with countless other patients, I have waited for more than a decade while other states have passed medical marijuana laws protecting patients and New York has refused. The time is now.”

The New York City Independent Media Center
Sick and dying New Yorkers who can benefit from using medical marijuana may soon be able to stop worrying about jail.

​”Patients in New York who are suffering without relief cannot afford to wait another year for effective treatment,” said Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried (D-Manhattan), chair of the Assembly Health Committee and sponsor of the Assembly’s medical marijuana bill.
“With this session almost over, this year’s budget offers the best possible chance to provide some of the state’s most vulnerable residents with the care they deserve,” Gottfried said. “We need to pass this now.”
“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.”

Photo: NY Senate
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.”
Under New York’s proposed law, only qualified patients with a severe, debilitating or life-threatening illness would be eligible for medical marijuana.
In an unfortunate trend that started with New Jersey, patients would not be allowed to grow their own medicine. And like New Jersey, the proposed law is being touted as “among the tightest in the nation,” which normally translates as “some patients who genuinely need marijuana won’t be allowed to use it.”
Patients who do qualify would, however, be given safe access through a system of licensed dispensaries overseen by the state health department.
In its endorsement Monday, the PSSNY said that it supports the bill because “it establishes a comprehensive program to distribute marijuana for medicinal use in this state with appropriate controls that far exceed those in other states.”
“We support this initiative to provide access to a product that can relieve suffering in individuals with intractable pain when it is recommended by their physician,” the PSSNY said.
“I hope it is not too late for my mother-in-law who has bone cancer, and only wishes to have one day without pain,” said Craig Burridge, executive director of PSSNY. “She refuses to be medicated to the point of delirium, and that would require around-the-clock care that we cannot provide in our home,” Burridge said. “We want her to be with her family as long as humanly possible.”
“I’m tired of waiting,” said Dan Searles, a Beacon resident who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
“Every day that goes by is another one spent in agony,” Searles said. “Governor Paterson shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to put patients before politics and enact a compassionate, science-based law.”
In New York, medical marijuana is supported by the state AIDS Advisory Council, the Statewide Senior Action Council, the state Nurses Association, the Medical Society of the State of New York, the state chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society, and the state Hospice and Palliative Care Association, among others.
For more information, visit New York Patients First at www.nypatientsfirst.org.