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NY Assembly Approves Medical Marijuana But Rejection Looms

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The New York State Assembly, in a move
that was largely symbolic, on Wednesday approved legislation that would make New York the second-largest state to legalize
medical marijuana.
The 90-50 vote marked the third time the Democrat-dominated
Assembly approved such legislation, which would allow patients
registered with the state to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of
marijuana or grow as many as 12 plants.

The Republican-led Senate, however, has never allowed the
bill to come up for a vote, largely because the proposal
contradicts federal law. It is unlikely to allow a vote on the
bill this session.

"It is cruel to deny treatment to patients who are suffering
or to turn them into criminals," Assemblyman Richard Gottfried,
the bill's sponsor, said in a statement. Gottfried said the
measure would help thousands of people while enacting the
strictest medical-marijuana regulations in the country.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized
medical marijuana, and eight of them, including California,
Connecticut and Michigan, permit dispensaries to sell it. Under
the New York proposal, patients could purchase marijuana at
pharmacies and hospitals or from non-profits certified by the

Marijuana is used to alleviate nausea, pain and anxiety and
has been shown to benefit some patients who suffer from
HIV/AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, among other
ailments, according to a memo accompanying the bill.

In a May 16 editorial published in the New York Times, State
Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach of Brooklyn, who has
pancreatic cancer, implored the legislature to pass the
proposal. Inhaled marijuana, he said, is the only medicine that
relieves his nausea, stimulates his appetite and makes it easier
to sleep.

"This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a
human rights issue," Reichbach wrote.

In April Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told reporters that
he is opposed to legalizing medical marijuana but that he is
studying the issue.

Lawmakers in at least five other states, including
Massachusetts and Illinois, are considering medical-marijuana
legalization, and voters in Ohio will vote on the issue in

The federal government has approved a synthetic form of THC,
the active ingredient in marijuana, for medical purposes in pill
form but medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The U.S. Justice Department under President Barack Obama has
conducted raids and prosecuted growers and owners of medical
marijuana dispensaries.


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Source: chicagotribune.com
Author: Reuters
Contact: Connect with us - chicagotribune.com
Website: NY Assembly approves medical marijuana but rejection looms - chicagotribune.com
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