COMPASSIONATE GOP NEEDED TO MEDICAL M’S PASSAGE IN NYS
Compassionate Republicans will be key to medical marijuana’s passage
Despite the work of MPP, lobbyist Vince Marrone, and patients and advocates over more than eight years, seriously ill New Yorkers are sadly still waiting for a medical marijuana law. Although Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan) introduced S.B. 2774, it is extremely unlikely that a bill would move without a Republican sponsor in a Republican-controlled Senate. S.B. 2774 did not even get a vote in committee this year. Its Assembly counterpart, A. 7347, passed out of three committees, but did not get a floor vote before the legislature recessed for the summer.
Please write your legislators and urge them to support the swift enactment of medical marijuana legislation.
Led by champion, Asm. Dick Gottfried (D-Manhattan), the Assembly passed an effective marijuana bill twice, in June 2007 (95-52) and June 2008 (89-52), but the Republican-controlled Senate did not call a vote. During the 2009-2010 session, after Democrats narrowly took control of the Senate, the bill, with new momentum, advanced through several committees. In 2010, the Senate included medical marijuana in its budget resolution, and victory was close, but then-Gov. David Paterson forced its last-minute removal from the budget. Ultimately, Majority Conference Leader John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) did not call a vote for S. 8427.
Voters gave Republicans back control of the Senate, 32-30, in November 2010, and it will now be challenging to get a vote called. You can see how (and if) your state senator responded on our medical marijuana 2008 and 2010 candidate questionnaires, and you can also see how your Assemblymember voted if he or she was in office in 2008.
As the legislature lags behind, public support for medical marijuana remains strong. A 2007 poll found that 55% of Conservative Party voters favor allowing medical marijuana. A February 2010 Quinnipiac poll found that 71% of all New Yorkers believe it’s a good idea to allow adults to legally use doctor-prescribed medical marijuana.
Are you a patient?
If you are supportive and are a medical professional, a seriously ill patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, a law enforcement official, a clergy member, or a member of the legal community, or you know someone else that is, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can be of special help. Please include your address or nine-digit ZIP code.
Did you know New York is a “decrim” state?
New York is one of the 13 states that penalize first-offense possession of a modest amount of marijuana with a fine instead of possible jail time. First-offense possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana is punishable by a $100 civil citation, although first-offense possession of between 25 grams and two ounces carries a $500 fine and up to three months in jail. Additionally, law enforcement have been able to exploit a loophole in the decriminalization law by getting an arrestee to expose his or her marijuana as “open to public view,” which converts the conduct into an arrestable offense. This has resulted in the second highest per capita marijuana arrest rate in the U.S., at almost 93,000 people per year. The Drug Policy Alliance worked with legislators to get a fix-it bill, A. 7620 (and S. 5187), introduced. A. 7620 passed out of the Assembly Codes Committee and remains in the Rules Committee. You can learn more about New York by reading this report by Jon Gettman, PhD.