Several states are in competition to become the next to legalize the medical use of marijuana. New York is one of them, with Assembly Democrats proposing a bill in the next budget proposal. They aren’t the only ones interested in medical pot for New York State; Governor Andrew Cuomo has similarly offered proposals for a substantial medical marijuana system.
According to MainStreet, the proposal comes from Dick Gottfried and Independent Democrat Diana Savino in the State Senate. It would essentially provide the framework for dispensing and taxing the plant as a medical treatment.
“We’re thrilled to see the Assembly put medical marijuana on the table for the upcoming budget negotiations,” said Derek Peterson, of Terra Tech (TRTC), an urban agriculture business with a heavy interest in marijuana production and distribution. “Clearly these are lawmakers who see the economic value this industry could provide. We feel this move puts us in a very strong position for passage this year, hopefully making New York the 21st state with a medical cannabis industry. We look forward to participating in that industry.”
As for Gov. Cuomo’s proposed plan, up to 20 hospitals would be potentially involved in the research and evaluation of the benefits of a medical marijuana system. So far, ten have shown interest in the effort. Because the federal government allows marijuana to be part of research programs evaluating its effectiveness, the Governor’s idea would jibe with current federal policies.
“The governor’s proposal strikes a balance between complying with federal law and expanding the availability of medical marijuana without just opening the flood gates for unmonitored and unstudied use,” said Assemblyman Andy Goodell (R-Jamestown), according to the Observer Today.
Last year, a medical marijuana bill did pass the Assembly, which makes 2014 a promising year again. But the Senate has been the tough sell, as lawmakers there have wanted stricter language and an aspect that would require all New York farmers growing cannabis to be unionized.
The Assembly proposal is already facing criticism for something it includes—the creation of designated “runners”, or people who pick up and deliver medical marijuana for others. With no included criminal background check or restrictions on refilling patient requests, the notion of these runners isn’t too popular.
“That’s a wide open invitation for criminal activity,” said Goodell. “The Assembly proposal violates current federal laws, which creates constitutional issues. I support efforts to make helpful drugs available, but at the same time, we need to be very careful to comply with federal law and make sure the right people are getting the right amount for the right conditions.”