Today, in the final hours of the 2014 Legislative Session, the New York State Senate passed the Compassionate Care Act, which establishes a medical marijuana program in New York State. I joined 48 of my colleagues in voting for this bill, which is about a simple concept: alleviating suffering for severely ill New Yorkers. The legislation includes provisions to ensure medical marijuana is reserved for patients with serious medical conditions and is dispensed and administered by the appropriate state agencies to ensure that the program cannot be abused.
The bill, which has been passed by both houses of the Legislature and is supported by Governor Cuomo will:
· Establish a certification and registry process for physicians to administer medical marijuana;
· Put in place a process for patients to obtain, and manufacturers to dispense, medical marijuana;
· Specify that the serious conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed are cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication on intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies and Huntington’s Disease;
· Establish a Class-E felony for a practitioner that certifies an individual as eligible to facilitate the possession of medical marijuana if he or she knows or reasonably should know the person who is asking for it has no need for the medication;
· Establish a misdemeanor offense for recipients of medical marijuana that sell or trade the medication; and
· Create a 7% excise tax on every sale of medical marijuana by a registered organization to a certified patient or designated caregiver.
I applaud the bill’s sponsors, Senator Diane Savino and Assembly Member Dick Gottfried and the patients, family members and other advocates who worked so hard to secure its passage.