With less than a month to go in the 2014 session, the New York State Assembly yesterday approved a medical cannabis bill. The bill would legalize the possession of up to two and a half ounce of herb for qualified patients as well as allow state-regulated dispensaries. The bill will now head to the state Senate.
“There are tens of thousands of New Yorkers with serious, debilitating, life-threatening conditions whose lives could be made more tolerable and longer by enacting this legislation,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat who sponsored the bill, told the New York Times.
This is the fifth time in seven years the Assembly has approved a medical marijuana bill, though, and prospects for the passage of Gottfried’s proposal this year are likely slim. Senate Republicans have historically not been receptive to compassionate cannabis use.
However, as we’ve reported here at Toke, the Senate is also considering a medical cannabis bill this session. State Sen. Diane Savino’s bill, which would create a program similar to Gottfried’s, became the first medical cannabis bill to ever make it out of the Senate Health Committee and now is waiting for approval from a finance committee before going before the full senate for the vote. The finance committee has said that if there is interest in the Senate, they will not block the bill.
Savino says she has the support of about 40 other Senators right now.
Both proposals would offer patients way more access than a plan proposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that allows some hospitals to distribute medical cannabis to limited numbers of patients.