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(Video): News 10 Rochester – Albany lawmakers push for safe drug injection locations

January 29, video here.

Gay City News: Assembly holds hearing on legalizing pot

By Nathan Riley, January 18

BY NATHAN RILEY | Demanding that New York State stop racist law enforcement patterns by legalizing adult use of marijuana, advocates told members of the State Assembly, including Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried, a Chelsea Democrat, that police stops are traumatizing black and brown New Yorkers.

At a January 11 hearing in Lower Manhattan, speaker after speaker insisted that being searched, handcuffed, marched into court, and chained to other arrestees in the morning is often traumatizing.

“Marijuana decriminalization has fallen short and will continue to do so,” Kassandra Frederique, the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance, contended.

Even with reductions in stop and frisk, it remains up to the police officer to distinguish between private possession and possession in public view, which can trigger a criminal arrest. Those nabbed, overwhelmingly black and Latino New Yorkers, are fingerprinted and given retinal scans. Police officers have no immediate way of knowing if their victim faces deportation or loss of a job or a scholarship, but no matter what the arrestee is left cowed and confused.

Riverdale Press: A healthcare panacea for New Yorkers?

By Zak Kostro, January 19

Delores Dixon had what she describes as an “attack” on Dec. 6, 2011.

“It’s what some would call ‘vertigo,’” Dixon said. “Well, I am still walking with that today.”

Whatever it was — whatever it may be — Dixon isn’t certain. But it affects her “24/7” with dizziness and headaches, and needs a cane to keep her balance.

 “You can’t call it ‘vertigo,’” she said. “Some people say, ‘Yes, I have vertigo, too,’ and they’re walking fine. Not me. I may have a little snap of a movement, and I could fall.”

Still, despite that plus ongoing pain from a knee replacement several years ago, and arthritis, Dixon leads a very active life. But if some lawmakers like Assemblyman Richard Gottfried get their way, how she’s treated — and how it’s paid for — could drastically change through the New York Health Act.

Video: Spectrum News – Making the case for legalized marijuana

Capitol Tonight, January 17: Video here.

Last February, Governor Cuomo said he was against recreational marijuana because he thought it was a gateway drug. Now, Cuomo wants to appoint a panel to study legalizing pot in the state and the possible tax revenue it could bring. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried has been advocating for this for a while and hosted a hearing on this very issue last week. Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, joins us to talk more about this and other health care matters in the executive budget.

City & State: One rationale for legalizing marijuana? Curbing opioid deaths.

By Rebecca Lewis, January 12

President Donald Trump has pledged to end the growing scourge of opioid abuse.

The president’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has paved the way for prosecuting the nascent marijuana industry legalized in a growing number of states.

But the dual federal efforts may be at odds, experts say, citing evidence that expanding access to marijuana could actually help combat the opioid epidemic.

Dr. Julia Arnsten, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said at a state Assembly hearing this week that states that have medical marijuana average a lower rate of opioid-related deaths than states without.

Fox 5 NY: Legal marijuana in New York? Lawmakers hold hearing

By Jessica Formoso, January 11 (with video)

– The New York State Assembly held a public hearing Thursday to discuss the proposed Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, a bill that would legalize the production, distribution, and use of marijuana for adults over 21.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the chair of the health committee, said several states now tax and regulate recreational marijuana.

“I think that’s long overdue here in New York,” he said.

Over the past 20 years, more than 800,000 people in New York State have been arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

“In New York City in 2016, 18,000 arrests for marijuana procession alone,” the Law Enforcement Action Partnership’s Neill Franklin said. “$325 a day to incarcerate somebody in the city. That’s a lot of money.”

Crain’s: What should marijuana legalization look like in New York?

By Caroline Lewis, February 12

Although it’s uncertain if a bill to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol could become law in New York, a state Assembly hearing Thursday showed that lawmakers are taking the prospect of legalizing “adult use” seriously.

Rather than simply focusing on whether the state should end the prohibition of recreational marijuana, Assembly members asked pointed questions about what legalization should look like.

Advocates from the Drug Policy Alliance, Vocal-NY and a range of other advocacy groups said that full legalization in New York should address the harm that prohibition has caused to communities of color, whose members are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession. One approach is to proactively diversify license recipients.

AM New York: Marijuana legalization debated by New York State Assembly

By Ivan Pereira, January 11

Lawmakers had the dubious task Thursday of opening the floor to arguments for the legalization of marijuana in New York.

In light of growing national support over for legalizing pot — a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found that 58 percent of Americans want it decriminalized — State Assemb. Richard Gottfried, who chairs the assembly’s health committee, said the state needed to take a serious look at its antiquated drug enforcement laws.

“We want to hear from a diverse group” Gottfried said.

City & State: New York is facing a multibillion-dollar budget gap. Is it a big deal?

By Jon Lentz, January 9

New York is facing a major state budget shortfall this year, no matter whether it ends up being $1.7 billion, $4.4 billion or even a whopping $6.8 billion.

Just like the wide range of figures put forth by budget experts to quantify the projected budget gap, there’s a variety of opinions among politicians as to how bad the state’s fiscal situation truly is.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been running with a flat $4 billion figure, which he cited several times during his State of the State address last week. Exacerbating the state’s troubling financial situation, he said during his speech, was another $2 billion in federal health care cuts – and that’s not even getting into the long-term fiscal impact in New York of the new federal tax law, or other looming cuts proposed by Republicans in Washington, D.C.

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.