Assemblyman Stirpe Supports Allowing Access to Medical Marijuana for Seriously Ill Patients

According to a recent poll by the Siena Research Institute, “New Yorkers strongly support legalizing medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious illness.”1 In keeping with what New Yorker’s support, Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Cicero) announced the Assembly passed the “Compassionate Care Act” which would allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana to alleviate some of the pain caused by debilitating and life-threatening illnesses (A.6357-B). The bill would also require tracking of medical marijuana under the I-STOP law – New York’s real-time prescription-drug database – to ensure that it’s used in a safe and responsible manner.

“For those who are severely ill, medical marijuana could be the answer to relieving some of the pain caused by their condition,” said Assemblyman Stirpe. “When the research shows it can provide relief of symptoms associated with many of the most debilitating illnesses, we need to make sure access is available in order to bring relief to those who are suffering.”

Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical marijuana for treating a broad range of medical conditions.2 Minnesota recently passed legislation allowing medical marijuana and now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

Under the Compassionate Care Act, a health practitioner – being a licensed physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner – would determine if a patient who is suffering from a severely debilitating or life-threatening condition is likely to benefit from the use of medical marijuana. Those patients would then register with the state Department of Health and have their use of medical marijuana monitored by I-STOP – a real-time online database for health care practitioners and pharmacists to report and track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances, just as is done with other prescribed treatments – helping to prevent abuse of medical marijuana.

Furthermore, the state Department of Health would license and regulate organizations – including hospitals, not-for-profit corporations and for-profit businesses – which would be responsible for producing and dispensing medical marijuana, ensuring all groups comply with its strict and detailed regulations. A clinical advisory subcommittee would be created and consist predominately of health care professionals who would advise the state health commissioner on clinical matters.

Additionally, the bill would impose an excise tax on the manufacturing and dispensing of medical marijuana. Revenue raised from the tax would be shared with the locality where it is manufactured or dispensed, Assemblymember Stirpe noted.