In a move seen as mostly symbolic, the New York State Assembly on Wednesday voted 90 to 50 in favor of legislation that would make the Empire State the second-largest to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. It was the third time the Assembly, controlled by Democrats, has passed such legislation, which would allow registered patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis or grow up to 12 plants.
But the New York Senate, controlled by Republicans, is unlikely to vote on the bill this session, reports Reuters
. The GOP-controlled Senate has never allowed the bill to come up for a vote, despite its being passed three times by the Assembly, using the lame excuse that it would “violate federal law.”
That, of course, hasn’t stopped voters or state lawmakers in 17 other states and the District of Columbia from passing medical marijuana laws; maybe New York Republicans are just a little stupider — or more perhaps more severely lacking in balls — than their counterparts in other states.
|N.Y. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried: “It is cruel to deny treatment to patients who are suffering or to turn them into criminals”
“It is cruel to deny treatment to patients who are suffering or to turn them into criminals,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, sponsor of the bill. The measure would help thousands of people while enacting “the strictest medical-marijuana regulations in the country,” according to Gottfried. (I keep waiting for a state to pass what it calls the “strictest medical marijuana law in human history,” presumably one in which nobody at all is allowed to actually use the damn stuff.)
Eight states, including California, New Mexico, Michigan and Connecticut, allow dispensaries to sell medicinal cannabis. Under the New York bill, patients could buy marijuana “at pharmacies and hospitals” (assuredly not a workable plan, since marijuana is considered a Schedule I narcotic under federal law, illegal for any purpose, and pharmacies would lose their federal licenses to dispense drugs if they sold it), or from nonprofits licensed by the state (much better).
In a May 16 editorial published in The New York Times, New York Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach of Brooklyn — who suffers from pancreatic cancer — asked the Legislature to pass the medical marijuana proposal. Inhaled cannabis, he said, is the only thing that relieves his nausea, stimulates his appetite and makes it easier to sleep.
“This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and human rights issue,” Reichbach wrote.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told reports in April that he opposes legalizing medical marijuana, but that he is “studying the issue,” a classic non-respose and a particularly frustrating, spineless answer when New York patients continue to suffer every day.