The State of Medical Marijuana legislation in New York.

by Fred Abramson on January 8, 2013 · 5 comments

In recent years, the “public use” exception to New York’s 1977 decriminalization law has been used by police officers. New York City police have told tens of thousands of people, mostly young people of color, to empty their pockets — thus making them criminals under the loophole. On June 4, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his support for ending these unlawful marijuana arrests by doing away with the loophole. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and several district attorneys lent their voice to this needed change as well.

Meanwhile, a sitting judge described how medical marijuana alleviates the effects of his cancer treatments, and on June 13, 2012 the Assembly passed medical marijuana legislation for the third time.

While the pressure is continuing to build for reform, we’re not there yet: Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County) opposed the decriminalizatin fix, expressing a concern that people could walk around with “10 joints in each ear.” The Senate once again didn’t vote on medical marijuana, and though Gov. Cuomo’s position on medical marijuana softened, he didn’t support passage in 2012.

In New York, two stumbling blocks exist for the passage of medical marijuana laws: the Republican-controlled New York State Senate and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

According to the Syracuse Post Herald,  political dynamics are changing in Albany, where the Senate Republicans have allied with five Democrats – including a key supporter of medical marijuana.

“We’re counting heads in the Senate,” said Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference now allied with the Republicans. She plans to reintroduce her bill early next year. “I believe there is sufficient support in both parties in all three conferences in the Senate.”

Few political leaders in New York are talking about legalizing pot for recreational use. But when it comes to medical treatment, lawmakers are listening to patients and making decisions based as much on individual experiences as political ideologies.

What do you think? Should Medical Marijuana be legal in New York? How about recreational use of Marijuana?


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