The Watering Hole, Monday, June 23rd, 2014: NY State’s Medical Marihuana Bill

Yes, in the original legislation, S4406-D, marijuana is spelt “marihuana,” so I’ll go with that.

It appears that what Governor Cuomo will agree to sign is not the same as the original bill. S4406-D includes language regarding “smokable marihuana”, such as:

“1 (B) MEDICAL MARIHUANA MAY NOT BE SMOKED IN ANY PLACE WHERE TOBACCO MAY
2 NOT BE SMOKED UNDER ARTICLE THIRTEEN-E OF THIS CHAPTER, REGARDLESS OF
3 THE FORM OF MEDICAL MARIHUANA STATED IN THE PATIENT’S CERTIFICATION;”

The legislation listed a wide variety of illnesses** for which a patient could be treated with medical marihuana. The patient could receive an amount up to (and possibly more than, if prescribed by the patient’s medical practicioner) two (2) ounces every thirty days. The final bill (which I can’t find posted yet, but I’ll update this when I do) may limit the qualifying illnesses

From the Long Beach, NY, Patch:

The bill does not allow for smokable marijuana, “which is important,” according to Cuomo. Sponsors of the bill favored smokeable varieties but Cuomo thought it would contribute to development of a gateway drug, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

Excerpt from the WSJ:

It would permit only doctors to prescribe marijuana, in forms including oil-based and vapor, to individuals with any of about a half-dozen conditions**, including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

But it wouldn’t legalize smokable forms of the drug, making the effort much narrower in scope than many other medical-marijuana laws around the country. And it would allow the governor, upon recommendation by the state police superintendent or health commissioner, to suspend the program at any time.

The plan would make New York the 23rd state to legalize at least some forms of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the second—in addition to Minnesota—to do so while also banning smokable forms.

Mr. Cuomo had said he wanted to curb marijuana’s potential to become a “gateway” drug, a worry shared by some Republicans—including the GOP leader in the Senate, Dean Skelos—whose votes were critical to the legislation’s success.

Stop right there, Governor Cuomo. Obviously you haven’t studied the issue enough if you believe it is a “gateway drug.” Particularly when you consider what the average age and condition of most of the “certified patients” will likely be, I doubt if any of them will be looking for a higher high. I would have to think that many of them have been treated with a variety of painkillers over the course of their illness, very strong and often addictive painkillers. So why would “smokable” marihuana be more “gateway”-ish than edible marihuana?

Let’s get back to the permitted illnesses, aka “serious conditions”, now down to “about a half-dozen.” **Here’s the list from the original legislation:

12 7. “SERIOUS CONDITION” MEANS A SEVERE DEBILITATING OR LIFE-THREATENING CONDITION, INCLUDING:
CANCER, POSITIVE STATUS FOR HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS OR ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME,
AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS, ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY, TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY,
DYSTONIA, PARKINSON’S DISEASE, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, DAMAGE TO THE NERVOUS TISSUE OF THE SPINAL
CORD WITH OBJECTIVE NEUROLOGICAL INDICATION OF INTRACTABLE SPASTICITY, EPILEPSY, WASTING SYNDROME,
CROHN’S DISEASE, POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, NEUROPATHY, RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, AND HUNTINGTON’S
DISEASE, OR A CONDITION ASSOCIATED WITH OR A COMPLICATION OF SUCH A CONDITION OR ITS TREATMENT,
OR ANY OTHER CONDITION THAT IS ADDED BY THE COMMISSIONER.

So now, most of those conditions cannot legally be treated with medical marijuana? That’s a shame for all of those patients who may have had their hopes up of being covered under this bill.

I’ll post the wording of the new bill as soon as I get it. In the meantime, here’s a couple of websites that I ran across that you may find interesting.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 10th, 2013: I Love NY

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State address, covering topics ranging from education to housing to green energy initiatives, women’s issues, and, of course, the topic du jour, gun control. New York State already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country; Governor Cuomo is now calling for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with other measures, in response to recent tragic shootings in Connecticut and in upstate New York. The Governor is working with State lawmakers to hammer out new legislation, and is hoping to reach an agreement with them by the end of this week.

The complete outline of Governor Cuomo’s forward-looking proposals, which also include a minimum wage hike and decriminalization of “open possession” of less than 15 grams of marijuana (woo-hoo!), can be reviewed here.

Although the comments following articles regarding the Governor’s proposals regarding gun control are much the same blustering rants as those on way too many sites, i.e.: American citizens misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment to justify that they need their guns to protect against a tyrannical government, or for personal protection of self, home, family; the “government” is coming to take their guns, basically from their cold dead hands; cars, hammers, knives, you name it, all kill more people than guns; and (the most laughable) that “people are leaving New York in droves”; I am proud to be a New Yorker, and glad that Governor Cuomo is starting to act (not just sound) more like his father than I had expected.

Breaking News: New York State’s Marriage Equality Act – Almost There? PASSED!

Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the religious exemptions amendment to Governor Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act, 36-26. This is an exciting and important step forward, bringing the MEA much closer to becoming a reality.

State Senator Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) made the all-important move from undecided to ‘Yes’.

Watch the live feed from the New York State Senate here, as Senator Saland is going to speak shortly.

Also, Rachel Maddow is covering this live.

10:30pm UPDATE!!! By a vote of 33-29, the New York State Senate becomes the first Republican-controlled legislative body to pass a Marriage Equality Bill.

“Calloo, Callay, O Frabjous Day!

Marriage Equality for New Yorkers?

The New York State Senate could be voting on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act as early as today. The State Assembly, which is led by Democrats, has already passed the legislation – in fact, this is the fourth time that the Assembly has passed similar legislation, but it has never passed in the State Senate. It now goes to the State Senate, which is led by Republicans (32-30.) The proposed MEA, while it would legalize same-sex marriage, contains some exemptions which would protect any religious organizations or churches from lawsuits if they refuse to marry a same-sex couple (which, in my mind, somewhat negates the “equality” part of it.) Two of the Republican State Senators have said that they will vote for the legislation. One, Joel Miller, R-Poughkeepsie, is one of the few Republicans in the chamber to consistently vote in favor of same-sex marriage. I like what Senator Miller had to say in The Journal-News article.

“I have no problem with people who talk to God. I have problems with people who think God is talking to them,” Miller said, adding, “It is basic to America when we talk about land of the free and home of the brave. You can’t say land of the free and home of the brave except for one group I don’t particularly like.”

As of now it appears that one more ‘yes’ vote will be need to get it passed. Attention is now being focused on Republican State Senator Greg Ball, who represents District 40 (Putnam County, where Wayne and I both grew up and where we work.) Wayne spoke to Senator Ball regarding the same-sex marriage issue recently outside of our local supermarket in Patterson, Putnam County:

“I had a chance to talk to Greg Ball in person at one of his Senate on Your Corner events…I was trying to avoid speaking to him at all but I got funneled into a channel and he stepped up to shake my hand and introduce himself. I told him I knew who he was. So, not having anything prepared to say to him, I thought I would ask, “Where do you stand on gay marriage.” (A mistake, I know, and had I pre-planned the discussion, I would have used the words “marriage equality.)”

“He told me he was against it and I asked him why and he said that he thought it was “wrong.” He had concerns that churches might be forced to participate (or conduct) same-sex marriages against their will. I said that shouldn’t be a concern and that if they didn’t want to, they shouldn’t be forced to. (I honestly do not know the specifics of the Marriage Equality Bill, so I do not know how concerns like this are addressed.) I said gay people should be allowed to get married by a Justice of the Peace just like my wife and I were. (We were married in the restaurant where the reception was held.) He also said he thought most people were against it. Sensing, I guess, that he wasn’t going to convince me that he was right (based on the non-argument he gave), he blurted out that the Marriage Equality Bill “didn’t have the votes.” He said that somebody told him (I don’t know if it was the Governor or the Senate Majority Leader) that they didn’t have the votes to pass it. Keep in mind that this was about a week and a half ago and things have (apparently) changed since then. He then called over a friend of his (staffer? I don’t know) and asked him what he thought of it. The man said that he was Catholic and that he was against it. I said that if he was against it because of his own religious views that that was not a valid reason. Not everybody practices his religion and that no religious views should even be considered. That’s what separation of church and state was about.”

“He did tell me that he supported civil unions “fully” and that he favored letting voters decide on the marriage part itself. I reminded him “marriage” was not something owned strictly by religious people. I also said that the civil unions idea was relegating gay people to second class citizenship status that it was wrong. (I wish I thought to mention that you shouldn’t put Rights up to a popular vote, since the majority will all-too-frequently – and wrongly – deny a minority the same rights they have.) I said that civil unions weren’t the same thing at all. At the end of our discussion he remained unpersuaded, so I was surprised to hear people mention that he was “on the fence.” It did not appear that way to me.”

Ball is still holding out, arguing that the exemptions don’t go far enough to hold harmless the afore-mentioned religious organizations. Unfortunately for Ball, attention is also being focused on one of his staffers, who improperly used a constituent’s thank-you letter to Ball by altering it and sending it to media outlets, including the New York Daily News, via a false email address that the staffer created.

We will have to wait and see if New York, “The Empire State”, finally becomes the tenth ‘enlightened state.’ Expect an update on this story in the next day or two.

6/20, 9:55pm UPDATE: No vote yet. See articles from The Journal News here and here.

6/21, 9:55pm UPDATE: GOP-led NY State Senate still holding out, see today’s Journal News article here. See Greg Ball on CNN, via the Journal News’s “Politics on the Hudson” blog, here.