NY Senate Leader Supports Legalizing Medical Marijuana

May 10, 2005

, The Empire Journal

  A showdown is looming in Albany between the Legislature and Governor over legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

   While the Senate and Assembly seem amicable to negotiating a bill which would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to seriously ill or dying patients, Gov. George Pataki and the NYS Health Department say that there are adequate legal medications available for pain relief.

   Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunwick) himself a survivor of prostate cancer, said earlier this week that the time has come “to enact a medical marijuana law that allows the drug to be used in tightly controlled instances…..in strictly regulated, medically controlled circumstances”.

   Bruno’s endorsement of such a bill came after he met with talk-show host Montel Williams who lobbied at the Capitol for the legislation of marijuana.  Williams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and has used marijuana for pain relief.

   “New York needs to act now to make marijuana legally available for medical use”, Williams said.  “Every day that we delay of needless suffering for patients like me all across the state”.  He said that other painkillers haven’t worked for him.  “If it weren’t for medical marijuana, I would not be standing here today”.

   Williams was joined in his lobbying efforts by representatives of the Medical Society of the State of New York, the Associated Medical Schools of New York, the New York Nurses Association and the Statewide Action Council.

   Medicinal marijuana is legal in 10 states.

   Bruno said “the Legislature needs to act to enact a medical marijuana law that allows the drug to be used in tightly controlled instances with a doctor’s supervision”  He said he was confident an agreement could be reached with the Assembly  An aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he was “sympathetic” to the proposal.

   The Democrat-controlled Assembly has passed bills in the past to legalize pot for medical use but the Senate has failed to agree.

    The Senate proposal would allow doctors to authorize patients to receive marijuana from hospitals, pharmacies, state and local health departments and from specially approved not-for-profit organizations.

   But even if the Senate and Assembly do reach a negotiated measure this time, it’s unlikely Gov. Pataki will give his approval.

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