NYS is finally considering legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. Why not legitimize the business? Control it, raise the health standard of the product, while create a new “job creating” industry and raising needed taxes revenue. How many people do we have in our prisons, that we pay to prosecute and then incarcerate, who just want to be relieved of pain? Why should they be forced to purchase overpriced pills that are probably just inferior synthetic imitations of the raw plants anyway? Why should they be forced to participation in a precarious underground economy in order to relieve themselves from excruciating pain? Why not convert the youth on our street corners from drug dealers and future prison inmates into legitimate tax producing citizens? This legislation is a both bold and pragmatic. Does anyone have any argument against it?
At its meeting on February 29, 2012, the Council passed a Resolution co-sponsored by Council Member Oliver Koppell, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, urging the NYS Legislature to pass legislation, introduced by Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Senator Thomas Duane, that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. If the legislature adopts the proposal, New York would be the 17th state to legalize medical marijuana.
A joint hearing of the Mental Health Committee and the Subcommittee on Drug Abuse on November 11, 2011 examined the efficacy of medical marijuana, the implementation of laws that remove criminal sanctions for it use, eligibility for such use and means of access. At the hearing, doctors, and researchers testified in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Among these, was Dr. Adam Karpati, Executive Commissioner of the DOHMH, who testified that“in fact there’s a lot of evidence…. that smoking marijuana is superior to the known therapeutic agents for the conditions for which it’s contemplated.”
The Resolution reflects these opinions stating that:
· Proponents of medical marijuana point to a large body of reports and journal articles that support the therapeutic value of marijuana;
· Written works address the ability of marijuana to treat a variety of disease-related problems, including relieving nausea, increasing appetite, reducing muscle spasms and spasticity, relieving chronic pain, reducing intraocular pressure and relieving anxiety;
· Multiple public health and advocacy organizations support this legislation.
The proposed New York State medical marijuana bill would require a doctor’s recommendation and certification that the patient suffers from a debilitating or life-threatening condition. Home cultivation would not be allowed under the act and dispensaries would be registered with, and regulated by, the State.
“Koppell said, “I have been a longtime proponent of legalizing medical marijuana as a humane and medically effective means of relieving the suffering of people with severe illness. Currently, there are sixteen states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I believe that residents of New York State should have the same access as people living in these localities.”