June 13, 2012

Assembly Passes Bill to Allow Medicinal
Use of Marijuana in New York State

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, and Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol today announced the passage of legislation (A.7347-B/Gottfried) that would allow the use of marijuana to treat serious, life-threatening illnesses under a doctorís supervision.

"This legislation strikes an ideal balance between providing treatment to the seriously ill and preventing unintended abuse," said Silver. "More importantly, through the approval of this bill we are empowering those individuals for whom medicinal marijuana would reduce pain and other symptoms that would enable them to tolerate their medication and extend their lives."

Provisions included in the bill would:

"If the patient and physician agree that the patientís serious debilitating or life-threatening condition should be treated with medical marijuana, the government should not stand in the way," said Gottfried. "It is cruel to deny treatment to patients who are suffering or to turn them into criminals."

The bill would also require registered organizations to report, as frequently as every six months, to the commissioner of the Department of Health all sales, deliveries or distributions of medical marijuana to certified patients or designated caregivers.

"Many controlled substances that are legal for medical use, including morphine, Valium and steroids, are otherwise illegal," said Lentol. "We should not make criminals of seriously ill patients who would benefit from the use of medicinal marijuana. This bill will establish one of the best-designed systems to ensure we carefully regulate and monitor the medicinal use of this drug."

Silver and Gottfried noted that the bill does not require any public or private health plan to cover medical marijuana. The legislation also allows for the sale, furnishing, and possession of materials used in the lawful administration of medical marijuana to a certified ultimate user.