NY Senate Health Committee Okays Medical Marijuana Bill

Medical marijuana narrowly passed the Senate Health Committee — by one vote. 

The issue still has to be taken up by the Finance Committee before it goes to the floor.  

There are strong emotions on several fronts lighting up along the way.

“I will be able to go to a pharmacy or a dispensary and get something for my seizures, not the pill that I take that I’ve recently had problems with inducing a seizure,” said Donna Romano.  “I need an option.” Downstate Senator Diane Savino sponsored the bill, pledging that this law would be the most regulated in the nation.  “It’s about doing something that’s going to affect the lives of people who are here and have been coming up here who are sharing their personal pain, their life-long illnesses,” she said.

The proposal has its limits — and opposition.  Eligibility would be limited to patients of twenty health conditions.  Doctors would have the final say on prescription distribution. “This is necessary for some of us,” Romano said.  “We don’t want just another drug as some people say.  We want our medication.”

Senator Greg Ball (R-Patterson) said,  “smoking a joint is not medicine.” “This sends a very dangerous precedent when you have the New York State Legislature getting in front of the federal government and the federal authorities what’s safe and not safe,” Ball said.  “This is all about money — behind the scenes — people want to push toward recreational pot.” Savino says an advisory panel of medical professionals would control its availability.  She believes New York’s plan would serve as an example for the FDA, and uphold the law.  

“Every plant has a bar code,” Savino said.  “It is impossible to divert this in to the black market.  We have a restriction on who can grow.  We only have 20 manufacturers under this bill.” Twenty-one state have medical marijuana programs.  Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) serves as the chairman of the Health Committee.  Despite his “no” vote, he believes medical marijuana will be taken up on the Senate floor by the end of session. Medical professionals are weighing in on both sides too. 

“I’m clearly not in a position to recommend it to my patients but patients who are having bad side effects to medications they’re currently on not doing well and it would be a wonderful thing to be able to offer them an alternative,” said Saugerties Dr. Laura Decker.

However, Dr. Normal Wetterau, past President of the New York Society of Addiction Medicine, said “most doctors will not write marijuana prescriptions. Dr. Wetterau believes there needs to be more research on the topic — and he can’t see the medical benefit, or any clear way to regulate the substance itself.  “When you buy this it doesn’t tell you what the ingredients, what the concentration is, there’s no regulation,” Wetterau said.

The bill would prohibit marijuana smoking for anyone younger than 21 years old.  It may be used in other forms, like an oil.  

To read more, visit http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/medical-marijuana-slated-key-vote-committee-16297.shtml

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