NY Law Journal: NY Lawmakers Ask Congress to Pass Marijuana Law Following Sessions Pot Reversal

By Josefa Velasquez, January 4

The architects of New York’s medical marijuana program are asking Congress to pass legislation allowing medical and recreational use programs after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday that he is rescinding an Obama-era policy that generally kept federal law enforcement from interfering with states’ marijuana sales.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and state Sen. Diane Savino, both Democrats who helped craft New York’s medical marijuana program, are calling on U.S. Congress to enact legislation that would protect marijuana programs in the states that have them, which include New York and California, among others.

They were joined in their call by medical marijuana industry and drug policy reform advocacy groups.

Assembly Health Committee Year in Review

Assembly Health Committee Year-End Update

The Assembly Health Committee wrapped up 2017 with 34 bills signed into law and 19 vetoed, including four which were vetoed with specific agreement for further administrative actions. Some bills were signed or vetoed based on agreements to enact changes in 2018. (A governor often raises concerns and wants changes in a bill after it has been passed by the Legislature. This usually happens after the Legislature has adjourned for the year. It is not widely known to the public, but in New York it is common for a governor to insist that the leaders of the Legislature agree to changes in a bill as a condition of the governor signing it. If the legislative leaders and the bill’s sponsors agree, the governor then signs the bill and the Legislature enacts the changes early in the following year.)

The Assembly Health Committee also held public hearings including:

  • Home care workforce adequacy.
  • Adult home oversight and funding.
  • Health care services in state prisons and local jails.
  • Nursing home quality of care and enforcement.
  • Water quality budget implementation.
  • Immigrant access to healthcare.

Below are summaries of bills acted on by the Governor as well as the public hearings.

The Villager: Gansevoort garage demo is in gear

By Lincoln Anderson, December 14

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | As anyone who is passing by Gansevoort Peninsula on the Hudson River bikeway or lives within sight of it knows, the hulking former garbage-truck garage there clearly is being demolished.

What is less clear is whether the peninsula, slated to be redeveloped into a park, will eventually also be home to a marine transfer station for recyclable municipal garbage. And that question could impact the process of designing a park there.

Merry Jane: Cannabis Prohibition in New York State has Everything Working Against It

By Madison Margolin, December 1

Cannabis prohibition in New York State could have a fast approaching expiration date — if legislators take into account all the factors working against it.

According to a recent poll, 62 percent of New York voters think cannabis for adults over 21 should be legal, with only 28 percent opposed. Meanwhile, with New Jersey’s recent election of Phil Murphy for governor — who has promised to legalize cannabis rather than suppress it as his predecessor and outspoken pot opponent Chris Christie did — prohibition in New York will become an increasingly untenable policy. During his campaign, Murphy pledged to “legalize marijuana so police can focus resources on violent crimes.” Assuming New Jersey does move forward with legalization in the near future, policing the influx of legal weed over the border would likely be an unpopular use of law enforcement resources in New York.

Democrat & Chronicle: Doctors deserve the right to collectively negotiate

By Peter Ronchetti, November 21

Are you concerned about the availability of physicians in your community? You should be.

A recent report from the Healthcare Association of New York State noted that 86 percent of upstate hospitals indicated that there are times when they have to transfer patients from their emergency departments because of insufficient specialty care availability. Over 70 percent of hospitals noted their lack of primary care capacity.

City and State: Federal uncertainty keeps New York’s health care agenda in limbo

November 20, 2017

Health care legislation in Albany during the 2018 session will be largely affected by decisions made in Washington. State Sen. Kemp Hannon, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said the state Legislature would be “very careful” and will be “watching what happens” in Congress this year when deliberating health care issues.

Last week, U.S. Senate Republicans launched another effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act by including a measure in their sweeping tax reform proposal to eliminate the requirement that Americans buy health insurance or face a fine.

Additionally, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which gives federal aid to provide medical coverage for low-income children, expired on Oct. 1. Nearly 700,000 children in New York state were enrolled in CHIP as of last year, according to Medicaid data.

City and State: Winners and Losers, 11/17/17

November 16, 2017

A week and a half after the general election, a few of the races that were too close to call have finally been resolved. Two of the victors landed on this week’s list, along with a few lawmakers who notched legislative victories, several commissioners who committed unforced errors and more.


Chris Collins & Tom Reed – While some of their colleagues in the state’s Republican congressional delegation don’t agree, these two Western New Yorkers were happy to vote for the controversial tax reform proposal that passed in the House this week. Reed helped craft a key compromise on local and state tax deductions that advanced the plan, while Collins said it will save his constituents money. What’s more, the federal government declared Lake Ontario a disaster zone after spring flooding, another top priority for Collins.

Richard Gottfried & Diane Savino – The Manhattan assemblyman and the Staten Island state senator’s legislation allowing medical marijuana to be used for treating post-traumatic stress disorder was signed into into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Veterans Day, expanding the list of ailments that may legally be treated by cannabis. In a state where any legislative action can be incredibly slow, the bill passed with bipartisan majorities, and was touted by the governor as part of a package supporting veterans, making it a high point for the lawmakers.

Staten Island Advance: PTSD to be added as a qualifying condition for NY’s medical marijuana program

By Tracey Porpara, November 11

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign a bipartisan bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for New York’s medical marijuana program, he announced on Saturday – Veterans Day.

This action will make New York is the 28th state to allow medical marijuana to be used to treat PTSD.

“We thank Gov. Cuomo for his support of this compassionate bill. No one should have to leave the state to have access to a treatment that might help them have a better quality of life,” said Landon Dais, political director for the Marijuana Policy Project of New York.

Assembly Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of the bill, said, “Governor Cuomo’s action reflects growing recognition of the value of medical marijuana, and is another welcome step in the expanding and strengthening of New York’s medical marijuana program.”

Twenty-eight of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs will now allow patients with PTSD to qualify. In the only state that does not, Alaska, marijuana is legal and regulated for adults 21 and older. Bills to add PTSD to state medical marijuana programs were signed into law in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Vermont this year.

Since its launch nearly two years ago, New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program has certified 35,621 patients, and has 1,316 practitioners registered, said Jill Montag, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.

Times-Union: Will New York’s school health centers survive Medicaid change?

November 1, 2017

ALBANY — The number of New York public schools with on-site health centers has nearly doubled in the past two decades, with data showing benefits to both student health and academics.

But a looming change in the way these centers are reimbursed for Medicaid patients could cause them to scale back services or close altogether, officials warned Tuesday at a news conference in the Legislative Office Building.

State legislators and health and education leaders called on the governor to sign legislation that would halt the change, by granting school-based health centers a permanent “carve-out,” or exemption, from the state’s Medicaid Managed Care program.

“Forcing school-based health centers into Medicaid managed care plans will wreck a model that works,” said Assembly Health Chair Richard Gottfried, who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. James Seward.

City & State: Legislation could provide more funding to adult home care providers in exchange for quality of care improvements

By Dan Rosenblum, October 19

Adult home care providers are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would increase subsidies for those who house and care for seniors and adults with disabilities. Advocates for residents say any subsidy boost should be tied to additional oversight measures to guard against excessive salaries for facility managers, poor quality programs and fiscal mismanagement.