White Plains – New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) hosted a press conference Friday at the offices of Hospice & Palliative Care of Westchester to show her support for the Compassionate Care Act (A6357) and urge the New York State Senate to vote in favor of it.
The CCA, written by Assemblyman Dick Gottfried (D-75), Chair of the New York State Assembly Health Committee, would allow the use of medical marijuana as part of treatment for a specified group of illnesses. Paulin led a group of State legislators in showing her support for the measure, which was added to the Assembly one-house budget bill via a vote earlier this week.
“The medical benefits that can be derived from marijuana are far too great to ignore any longer,” Paulin said. “There are so many people suffering from a variety of diseases where medical marijuana would make a huge difference in their quality of life. We need to pass this legislation to help the thousands of patients that need specific strains of marijuana, such as children with Dravet’s Syndrome.”
The legislators and the special guests, including parents, patients, doctors and advocacy group representatives, gave impassioned pleas while presenting different perspectives regarding this complex issue.
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-95):
“I am pleased to support the Compassionate Care Act. While I understand and share the concerns that distribution of medical marijuana has the potential to be a slippery slope, I plan to make sure, with my colleagues, that New York will put in place regulations to make this impossible. My constituents, when polled, indicated decisively that this was not a concern for them.
“The benefits to those suffering who have not had success with other forms of pain management seem to me to greatly outweigh the risks, especially if we are diligent about how we administer access in our state.”
Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-93):
“People with debilitating and often terminal illnesses deserve compassion. If medical marijuana can relieve some of the suffering of these patients, we should make sure that they have access in a safe and orderly way. I'm very grateful for Assemblywoman Paulin's persistent efforts on behalf of New Yorkers who are in need of every option medical science have available to provide pain relief."
Suffern resident Maryanne Houser, whose daughter, Amanda, suffers from Dravet’s syndrome:
“Dravet’s syndrome is a rare but devastating, seizure disorder. I am encouraged to see that momentum to pass the Compassionate Care Act is growing, but every day the Senate fails to act, means another day of seizures for my little girl. Until the Compassionate Care Act passes my family is faced with a choice no one should have to make – watch our child suffer needlessly or contemplate uprooting our family and moving to one of the 20 states where medical marijuana is legal.”
Scarsdale resident Dalila Kessaci, whose daughter, Mellina, has infantile spasms:
“My daughter suffers a hundred seizures each week. She has tried dozens of highly toxic medications that have failed to help. Medical cannabis could literally be the thing that saves her life. The Assembly has stepped up; now it’s time for the Senate to do the same.”
Mount Vernon resident Dawn Carney is living with HIV:
“As someone who has lived with HIV/AIDS for more than 20 years, I know that medical marijuana can help with the side effects of HIV medications. It is simply wrong that New Yorkers living with serious and life-threatening conditions have to break the law just to use a medication that can relieve their symptoms. Patients have suffered long enough! It’s time for the Senate to pass this bill.”
Currently, 20 states allow medical marijuana. Every state in the Northeast allows the use of medical marijuana except New York and Pennsylvania. A Quinnipiac poll last month found that 88 percent of New York State voters supported the legalization of medical marijuana.