Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday he had signed legislation making New York the 23rd state to allow medical marijuana, calling his approach, which forbids smoking of the drug and includes strict limits, the "smartest" any state had taken so far. Under the guidelines, access to the drug will be limited to patients with very serious and terminal illnesses, the drug can only be administered through vaporizing, oils and edibles, and Cuomo reserves the right to disband the program at any time. "This new law takes an important step toward bringing relief to patients living with extraordinary pain and illness," Cuomo told a news conference at the New York Academy of Medicine, flanked by lawmakers and 9-year-old Amanda Houser, who suffers from seizures. The legislation "gets us the best that medical marijuana has to offer in the most protected, controlled way possible,” the Democratic governor said. "I really believe that this is the smartest approach that any state has taken thus far." Other states have approved far more permissive laws. Washington state and Colorado decriminalized recreational use of marijuana in 2012. In other states, patients can grow their own pot, obtain it from a dispensary, or both. Medical marijuana is also legal in the District of Columbia. The signing of the New York law came after years of advocacy by proponents of medical marijuana. While applauding passage of the new law, advocates said it was not as comprehensive as patients had hoped and the timeline was too slow. "I’m heartened...
The final major obstacle blocking New York from becoming the 23rd medical marijuana state was cleared Thursday, setting the stage for final negotiations and a potential eleventh-hour vote as the final days of the legislative session near. With the Chairman of the New York Senate Finance Committee unwilling to consider the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state, the bill was discharged from the Finance Committee and re-assigned to the Rules Committee on Thursday. “The Savino bill will not come out of my committee, the Finance Committee,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco (R-D50) had said Tuesday, upsetting patients, parents and activists state-wide, who began flooding the Senators’ office with phone calls and social media posts urging DeFrancisco to re-consider. But when one of the state’s most powerful labor unions, the AFL-CIO, announced their support for the bill earlier this week, Senate leaders took the step to strip the bill from DeFrancisco’s committee and re-assigned it to the Rules Committee so that it could receive fair consideration. While not “advancing” the bill in a typical sense — the Finance Committee never considered or voted on the bill — when sponsors of the bill announced the move at a Thursday press conference in Albany, they were optimistic about the Compassionate Care Act receiving a vote by the full Senate before the end of the legislative session next week. If the Compassionate Care Act sees a vote by the full Senate, the bill — which has already passed the Assembly by a wide margin —...
Efforts to legalize medical marijuana in New York via the legislature could be dead in the water.
A key lawmaker in the Senate said on Monday that he doesn’t intend to move an MMJ bill out of his committee – a necessary step for the measure to advance this session.
John DeFrancisco, chairman of the Senate’s finance committee, said there’s a lack of research on cannabis and suggested that the governor’s plan to start an extremely limited research-focused program is the ideal way to approach the issue. His comments come even though he recently said he would allow a vote on the bill if the Senate leadership allows it.
The development could represent a major blow to the MMJ movement in New York, as the chances of passage now appear slimmer.
After several failed attempts to legalize medical cannabis in the past – none of which made it to a vote in the Senate – it seemed this could finally be the year that the legislature pushed through a bill.
The New York State Assembly passed a measure last month, and a similar bill cleared the Republican-led Senate health committee. Earlier Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said he would sign a medical marijuana bill “that makes sense” and includes strong regulations.
The Senate measure, however, needs to pass through the finance committee before receiving a full vote, which now appears doubtful.