This could be the year that New York joins the 18 other states including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont, that already have medical marijuana laws on the books.
On Tuesday, New York State Senator Diane Savino and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, along with 68 other co-sponsors, introduced a bill to allow seriously ill patients in the Empire State to use medical marijuana legally with a doctor’s recommendation. Gottfried argues passage of the law is long past overdue.
There will likely be debate as to whether health insurance will pay for treatment, and beyond that, what happens when the full provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act take effect?
Polling shows support for medical marijuana has been growing in New York in recent years. New York's medical marijuana patients are hopeful 2013 will be the year they are granted safe access to their medicine: Lisa Roche-Schroeder is an RN currently working in Saratoga County - she says many patients in the state suffering from cancer, HIV and MS are already using "medical marijuana" to treat serious conditions and alleviate symptoms.
Evan Nison, director of the New York Cannabis Alliance, says the current bill was carefully crafted and represents a responsible approach to the compassionate use of medical marijuana. Nison adds that researchers are studying cannabis use to treat the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and are finding positive results.
Under the new bill, an excise tax would be imposed on the manufacturing and sale of medical marijuana, the Health Department would license production and dispensation, with the state setting up so-called “seed to sale” security and regulations of the drug. An advisory board of health-care professionals would oversee the process.