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Medical Cannabis Passed by the New York State AssemblyJoy Graves Salem-News.com
"Now it’s long past time for the State Senate to act. The science is clear. The moral and ethical needs are obvious." - Gabriel Sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance's New York Policy Office
(EUGENE, OR) - News is spreading throughout the Big Apple state that a rather unpublicized medical cannabis (aka "Marihuana") bill went forward and was passed for the 4th time by an unofficial vote of 95-38 on Monday, June 3rd 2013. The bill will now go forward to the New York Senate for a final decision and be enacted into state law.
The Compassionate Care Act as it is called, or "A.6357 (Gottfried) / S. 4406 (Savino)" – would allow physicians to legally consult and discuss with their patients about the pros and cons of medical cannabis regarding their specific medical situation, and to allow those with seriously debilitating illnesses who choose to try cannabis as medication, to have access to a small amount of medical cannabis to relieve their ailments with protection from state prosecution.
According to the bill as it is written, a patient who has been certified by a healthcare practitioner to use medical cannabis would register with the New York State Department of Health (DOH), at which point, upon confirmation to the DOH from the physician, the patient would then receive a patient identification card assigned and issued them by the state. Then, a "Specially Approved Organization" (aka a "Dispensary") would dispense the medicinal cannabis to the individual registered patients, under the states DOH supervision.
"This is the fourth time the State Assembly has passed a medical marijuana bill," said Gabriel Sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance's New York Policy Office. "Now it’s long past time for the State Senate to act. The science is clear. The moral and ethical needs are obvious." Sayegh went on to plea: "The only thing holding this up is the Senate, listen to the science, to healthcare practitioners, and to the vast majority of New Yorkers who support this proposal. It’s time for the Senate to pass the Compassionate Care Act."
Apparently the speech worked, because Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz reversed his position on the bill a year after having voted against it in earlier addresses. Katz stated that a major reason he's suddenly changed his mind on medicinal cannabis, is because of the love for his mother. He reports that his mother is suffering greatly due to a debilitating spinal condition. Katz stated that despite his mother taking "massive doses" of various pain killers, that they have not done anything to beneficially alleviate her pain, much less attempt to actually fix the problem causing his mother to suffer unnecessarily.
Katz suggested that he believes that medical cannabis could help his mother, so, this is at least part of why he has officially changed his position. Now that it is his mother suffering, he's willing to support physicians and patients' rights to access and use the 100% safe, all-heal herbal alternative rather than to continue with the dangerous pharmaceutical "mask-only" drugs.
He did however, make it a point to state for the record: "To be perfectly clear, this bill will not legalize the type of behavior one would imagine in a 'Cheech and Chong' movie. Rather, this bill takes responsible steps in helping those that are clearly in need." (such as his mother, fortunately for the rest of the ailing community.) Many find humor in his statement due to a recent dismissal Katz received after having been caught in possession as cannabis.
(Note: Salem-News.com earlier stated that Katz was caught in possession of marijuana and was caught consuming, or using it. Salem-News was contacted by an employee of Assemblyman Katz today 6-10-13 who states, "I work for Assemblyman Steve Katz in NY and in your story you mention that the Assemblyman was caught consuming marijuana. That is untrue and I would appreciate it if you could please update your article.")
The A.6357 bill has very wide support from healthcare providers & organizations within the state, such as the New York State Nurses Association, the Collaborative for Palliative Care, GMHC, New York State Pharmacists Society, NY Physicians for Compassionate Care, and the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York.
In fact, in quoting Ms. Jill Furillo, the Executive Director, of the New York State Nurses Association: "We applaud the Assembly for taking this step and passing the Compassionate Care Act." She added, "The NYSNA supports this legislation because it creates a carefully controlled system allowing seriously ill New Yorkers access to the therapeutic and palliative benefits of medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider."
One week before the meeting and vote, on May 30th, The New England Journal of Medicine again released a favorable cannabis survey concluding and announcing that out of physicians, they found that 76% of those surveyed would approve medical cannabis for use to reduce pain in a cancer patient. (See: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/
"This is a medication, far safer than many of the medications we already use, that has been proven effective for chronic and neuropathic pain, appetite stimulation, and nausea. As doctors, we want to do what’s best for our patients and that includes recommending medical marijuana for some patients. We urge the Senate to do the sensible and humane thing and pass the Compassionate Care Act now." said Howard Grossman, MD, a New York City-based physician and chair of NY Physicians for Compassionate Care Organization.
According to the National Institute for Medicine, "Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety … all can be mitigated by marijuana." It also concluded that "there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana…" (See: http://search.nap.edu/
Though Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, is still in opposition of the measure, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who would have to give it final approval, it's believed that it will likely go into effect early next year meaning the ill will continue to suffer, but hopefully not for too much longer. Advocates say this is a positive step for cannabis liberation and hopeful news for those needing access to it.
Currently there are 18 states as well as Washington DC which have legalized medical cannabis under state laws and obviously there are more in progress. Colorado and Washington state have gone a step further by passing complete legalization laws allowing cannabis to all residents over age 21 in exchange for taxation & regulation control with or without a medical ailment period, and Oregon and a few other states are working on going the same direction as well.
Yet of course despite the nation's majority supporting cannabis legalization for medical reasons, the federal government still refuse and resists the concept legally, even though they themselves have patents on all the genetics that prove it to be an effective heal and curing herbal alternative. Also, never forget that there is a federal medical marijuana program and a small number of patients who have been receiving legal federal cannabis for many years.
"More and more doctors are using medical marijuana in states where it is legal, It doesn't make sense that doctors in New York cannot use medical marijuana in their practice." said Craig D. Blinderman, MD, MA, director, Adult Palliative Care Services, co-director, Center for Supportive Care and Clinical Ethics, Department of Medicine, Columbia University.
New Yorkers are encouraged to continue to push for the support of State Assemblyman Katz by contacting him via email at: email@example.com and also to point out that every ill patient is someone's parent or child, and that endorsing medicinal cannabis sanctions is simply the "Right thing to do" period, and then ask Him where you go from there to ensure that it happens.
Joy Maxine Graves, published author, cannabis reporter and photographer is best known for her involvement as a Cannabis Freedom Fighting Activist. Joy has shown herself to be quite the trooper when it comes to fighting for as well as defending Truth, Justice & Honor, for protecting the "weaker guy", and for standing her ground when faced with nothing but hate and diversity. As the #2 most beloved personal "Jack's Girl" to the Emperor of Hemp himself (Jack Herer, RIP) for more than 13 years, which is how Salem-News.com encountered her by the way, we soon-after couldn't help but to noticed her flare for photography as well as her knack with people, and she has become a valuable part of the Salem-News team.
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