Friday, March 2, 2012

Koppell Sponsored Medical Marijuana Bill


At its meeting on February 29, 2012, the Council passed a Resolution co-sponsored by Council Member Oliver Koppell, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, urging the NYS Legislature to pass legislation, introduced by Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Senator Thomas Duane, that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. If the legislature adopts the proposal, New York would be the 17th state to legalize medical marijuana.
A joint hearing of the Mental Health Committee and the Subcommittee on Drug Abuse on November 11, 2011 examined the efficacy of medical marijuana, the implementation of laws that remove criminal sanctions for it use, eligibility for such use and means of access.  At the hearing, doctors, and researchers testified in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.  Among these, was Dr. Adam Karpati, Executive Commissioner of the DOHMH, who testified that “in fact there’s a lot of evidence…. that smoking marijuana is superior to the known therapeutic agents for the conditions for which it’s contemplated.”
The Resolution reflects these opinions stating that:
·        Proponents of medical marijuana point to a large body of reports and journal articles that support the therapeutic value of marijuana;
·        Written works address the ability of marijuana to treat a variety of disease-related problems, including relieving nausea, increasing appetite, reducing muscle spasms and spasticity, relieving chronic pain, reducing intraocular pressure and relieving anxiety;
·        Multiple public health and advocacy organizations support this legislation.
The proposed New York State medical marijuana bill would require a doctor’s recommendation and certification that the patient suffers from a debilitating or life-threatening condition.  Home cultivation would not be allowed under the act and dispensaries would be registered with, and regulated by, the State.
“Koppell said, “I have been a longtime proponent of legalizing medical marijuana as a humane and medically effective means of relieving the suffering of people with severe illness.  Currently, there are sixteen states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I believe that residents of New York State should have the same access as people living in these localities.” 

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