Thursday, April 12, 2012

Renewed Push for Medical Marijuana in New York

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 8:58 AM

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State legislators are preparing a new push to legalize medical marijuana in New York, the Wall Street Journal reports. Such bills passed the state assembly in 2007 and 2008, but died in the state senate, which Republicans—who largely don't support the measure—control. Democrats would need to win over at least four of them, and advocates say as many as six could be convinced. Supporters compare the situation to the vote allowing same-sex marriage, which passed when a few senate Republicans were swayed to support it.

This bill is co-sponsored by State Senator Diane Savino, who represents the north shore of Staten Island, as well as a few clusters of southern Brooklyn, including Coney Island and parts of Sunset Park and Bensonhurst. For her, it's personal—her parents both died of lung cancer, so she knows the pain its victims can experience. We ran a lengthy interview with the senator on the subject in July. "There’s a tremendous amount of misconceptions about addiction still, to this day, that continue to criminalize behavior, which, you know, hasn’t really turned the tide of drug abuse," she told us then. "People should start looking at medical marijuana as another medication that’s available to patients. Stop looking at it as a drug and look at it for what it could be. At the end of the day, they’re all drugs."

Passage would likely depend upon the support of Gov. Cuomo, who has so far been reluctant to embrace the issue. "As a candidate for governor in 2010, Mr. Cuomo said the dangers of medical marijuana 'outweigh the benefits,'" the Journal reports. "But he appeared to soften his stance last year when he told reporters that his administration didn't have a 'final position' on the issue." New York State would be the union's 17th to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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