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Medical Marijuana Bill on Health Committee Agenda tomorrow

The Compassionate Care Act – A.6357-A (Gottfried)/S.4406-A (Savino) – is on the agenda for the Assembly Health Committee meeting on Tuesday, January 14 at 10:00 AM in Room 823 of the Legislative Office Building. The bill, which would set up a tightly regulated and controlled medical marijuana system, passed the Assembly last year with strong bi-partisan support.

While I welcome Governor Cuomo’s endorsement of the medical value of cannabis for many seriously ill patients, the 1980 Olivieri law that he is using has serious limitations. Patients tell us that a great many of them will be left out. Science is well beyond where we were in 1980. There are many patients who could benefit from medical marijuana who cannot be helped under the 1980 law, such as children with severe epilepsy. Using marijuana seized by the police, as the 1980 law does, also raises serious concerns.

 Under the Compassionate Care Act, practitioners licensed to prescribe controlled substances could certify patient need, and certified patients would register with the Health Department. The Health Department would also license and regulate entities to produce and dispense medical marijuana for certified patients. Both the certification process and dispensing of medical marijuana would be included in the I-STOP prescription monitoring system for controlled substances enacted in 2012.