ALBANY, NY — A bill that would allow New York residents to use marijuana for medical purposes has cleared another committee, passing the New York State Assembly Codes Committee by a vote of 16 to 6 Tuesday.
The Compassionate Care Act, which has previously been approved by the Assembly Health Committee, will now be considered by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. If the Ways and Means Committee approves the bill, it will be considered for debate and a vote by the full Assembly.
The Compassionate Care Act, Assembly Bill 6357, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, has substantial support in the Assembly, with over 60 co-sponsors. An identical companion bill, Senate Bill 4406, is pending in the Senate, with over a dozen co-sponsors.
The bills, both introduced by lawmakers representing voters in New York City, would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs, and has the support of hundreds of patients and providers and dozens of organizations across the state.
“As a stage 4 metastatic cancer patient I can’t be cured, but medical marijuana improves the quality of my life and allows me to be me, rather than at the mercy of my disease. Why can’t we have the best possible lives in the time we have left?” asked Beverly McClain, New York City resident and member of Compassionate Care New York, a group of patients, healthcare providers and organizations who support the Compassionate Care Act.
The bill also enjoys wide support from healthcare providers and organizations, such as the New York State Nurses Association, the Collaborative for Palliative Care, GMHC, New York State Pharmacists Society, and the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York.
“The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) supports this legislation because we believe that it creates a carefully controlled system allowing seriously ill New Yorkers to take advantage of the therapeutic and palliative benefits of medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, First Vice President, NYSNA Board of Directors.
The bill was drafted with careful, strict controls: under tight regulation, a patient who has been certified by a healthcare practitioner to use medical marijuana would register with the New York State Department of Health and receive a patient identification card.
The bills would create a tightly regulated system of medical marijuana supply, complete with patient registries, but would not allow patients or designated caregivers to grow their own medicine. Patients would be limited to possessing no more than two ounces.
There is no vote yet scheduled for the Senate, but the bill’s Senatorial sponsor, Senator Diane Savino is pushing for a vote on the measure before the end of the Legislature’s session in June.
A third medical marijuana bill, introduced in January, has stalled in committee.