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New York: State Assembly Passes Legislation To Seal Past Marijuana Possession Convictions

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Bill is First Step Toward Comprehensive Plan to Redress Harms of the War on Drugs in Communities of Color

As Legislative Clock Winds Down, Advocates and Assemblymembers Urge Senate to Quickly Pass the Companion Bill in the Senate

The New York State Assembly on Wednesday voted in support of A10092, a bill that will seal the criminal records of people who have been unjustly and unconstitutionally arrested for simple possession of marijuana in public view. The bipartisan vote was 92 in favor and 34 opposed.

Over the last 20 years, more than 700,000 New Yorkers have been arrested for simple possession of marijuana. Those convicted face significant barriers to accessing education, employment, housing opportunities, and other state services.

“I introduced the marijuana sealing bill because drug laws have created a permanent underclass of people unable to find jobs after a conviction,” said Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “One of the most damaging issues derived from the war on drugs is that the policies are inherently racist.

"Communities of color have been devastated by bad drug policies and hyper-criminalization for the last 40 years," Peoples-Stokes said. "It is an approach that has never worked and has caused significantly more harm than good to our communities and to our families.

New York: Patients Can Now Register For Medical Marijuana, But Good Luck Getting It

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New York's medical marijuana law passed in 2014, but it's still unclear when ailing patients might be able to actually obtain any cannabis.

State health department officials claim the program is on track to open this month, which is when the 2014 legislation stipulated, reports Glenn Blain at the New York Daily News. But officials have been silent on the exact launch date, and haven't indicated the number or locations of doctors certified to authorize medicinal cannabis.

"I have significant concerns about the implementation of the program and how successful it will be, especially from a patient access standpoint," said Julie Netherland of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

According to Netherland, the New York Health Department waited until mid-October to offer the online certification course required for doctors who wish to prescribe medical marijuana, and didn't begin accepting registration requests from patients until late December. Those don't seem like actions of an agency that is particularly concerned about opening in January.

New York state law requires that patients seeking medical marijuana must first be certified by a state-approved physician, and then register with the Health Department and obtain a registry identification card before being allowed to purchase cannabis from one of five licensed growers operating in New York.

New York: Company Will Offer World's First Certified Kosher Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New York company has announced it will soon offer the world's first certified kosher medical marijuana.

Vireo Health, based in Albany, said its non-smokable medicinal cannabis products have been certified as conforming to the Jewish dietary law by the Orthodox Union, reports Glenn Blain at the New York Daily News.

The Orthodox Union said it awarded kosher certification to the product after inspecting Vireo's facilities to ensure the cannabis was grown and processed according to kosher standards. The standards include that the plants be insect-free, for example.

Vireo, one of just five companies chosen by the state to grow and distribute medical marijuana, said it will be the first "medical cannabis company in the world" to have the "OU" symbol on its oils, vaporization cartridges and other products.

Vireo said the certification will help the company serve patients among New York's Jewish population, the largest in the U.S. Its program is scheduled to start next month, and will serve patients who qualify under New York's medical marijuana law.

“Being certified kosher by the OU will not only help us serve the dietary needs of the largest Jewish community in the United States, but also combat unfortunate stigmas associated with medical cannabis,” said Vireo CEO Ari Hoffnung.

New York: Medical Marijuana Advocates Launch Billboard Campaign For Veterans, Other PTSD Patients

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Billboards to Run In Syracuse, Rochester, Albany and Other Media Markets Across the State

Patient Advocates Ask Cuomo Administration to Grant Veterans Suffering from PTSD Access to Medical Marijuana

Compassionate Care NY and the Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday launched a billboard campaign to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) added to the list of conditions covered by New York’s medical marijuana law.

The first billboard was put up in Syracuse on Route 690 East, with others to follow in Rochester, Albany, and other media markets across the state. The billboard directs people to a petition encouraging Governor Cuomo and Health Commissioner Zucker to add PTSD as one of the medical conditions for which patients can receive medical marijuana in New York.

"There are several other states that include PTSD under their medical marijuana programs,” said Donna Romano, a Vietnam Era veteran of the US Navy from Syracuse, New York. “Why isn't PTSD included in New York? I am a veteran myself, and I believe that the people who serve this country should have access to treatments that actually work when they come home.

"The science is real, and the research is strong," Romano said. "Cannabis helps treat PTSD, and veterans who call New York home should have this option. As it stands now, New York’s medical marijuana program is quite limited, and it leaves out thousands of people struggling with PTSD. That is unacceptable. PTSD should be added to the list of covered conditions immediately."

Oregon: Albany City Council Bars Recreational Marijuana Sales

OregonAlbanyISupportRecreationalCannabisSales[HassoHering]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon adults 21 and older will be able to legally buy recreational marijuana on October 1. Well, most of them. If you live in Albany, Oregon, your city council says you don't get to do that.

A large crowd of cannabis advocates filled the room, with about two dozen speaking to the council, "but they might have well stayed home," , reports Hasso Hering.

Four members of the Albany City Council blocked recreational marijuana sales in the town. Councilors voted 4-2, enacting an ordinance that bars medical marijuana dispensaries from selling recreational weed from October 1 through the end of 2016.

After that, recreational cannabis still can't be sold at medical dispensaries, but will be available at recreational retail stores which will be licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Voting for the ban were Councilors Floyd Collins, Bill Coburn, Bessie Johnson, and Rich Kellum. Voting against the ban, and thus actually representing their constituents who voted for recreational marijuana legalization, were Dick Olsen and Ray Kopczynski.

Councilors are also considering passing even more restrictions on marijuana sales. Among the ideas discussed:

• A buffer larger than the currently required 300 feet between dispensaries and residential zones

New York: City and County of Albany To Reduce Low Level Arrests, Racial Disparities

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Broad Array of Community Stakeholders Sign Memorandum of Understanding To Collaborate on Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion – LEAD

Working Group Includes Albany Police Department, District Attorney, Albany Mayor’s Office, County Executive and Departments, Business and Community Leaders, and Health Organizations

Officials and community leaders on Thursday announced that the City and County of Albany, New York, will be developing an innovative program to reduce recidivism while advancing public safety and public health. The program is known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD.

Under LEAD, police officers may exercise their discretion and divert individuals for certain low-level criminal offenses like drug possession; instead of being arrested and going through the regular criminal justice process, the individual is referred to a case manager, who then facilitates access to a comprehensive network of social services.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion was launched in 2011 in Seattle. LEAD emerged from a growing consensus that the war on drugs has failed, its associated racial disparities are unacceptable, and there is a need for innovative, effective approaches to reduce the number of people unnecessarily entering the criminal justice system.

Santa Fe became the second jurisdiction to implement the program in 2014. Albany is the first East Coast city and the third city in the nation to begin developing LEAD.

New York: Legislature Passes Bipartisan Bill To Create Emergency Medical Marijuana Access

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Frustrated with Inaction, Patients and Families Demand Governor Sign the Bill into Law Immediately

In an unusual show of bipartisan support, the New York Senate on Monday night voted 50 to 12 in favor of a bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo, that directs the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible.

The Assembly version, sponsored by Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, passed last week by an overwhelming majority (130-18). The bill now goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature or veto.

The passage of this bill comes almost exactly one year after the Legislature passed New York’s medical marijuana law and almost 10 months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.

To date, not one patient has received medical marijuana, and at least four children, who might have benefitted from medical marijuana, have died since the governor signed the bill last year.

“Even though we worked tirelessly to pass New York’s medical marijuana law, for the past year, my family and I have continued to watch Oliver suffer relentless, damaging seizures, all the while knowing that there is a medicine that could help him,” said Missy Miller of Atlantic Beach, whose son Oliver suffers from life-threatening seizures. “Every day we go without this medicine is a day that Oliver loses ground, every day we live with the risk of him dying from these seizures.

New York: Patients and Families Demand Emergency Access To Medical Marijuiana

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Abandoned by Cuomo, Families Turn to Legislature to Pass a Bipartisan Bill

Bill Would Create Emergency Access Program to Provide Relief to Critically Ill Patients, including Children with Epilepsy

Patients, family members, and advocates on Tuesday stood with legislators from both sides of the aisle in support of A.7060 (Gottfried) / S.5086 (Griffo), a bill that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible.

The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb in the Assembly and Senator Joseph Griffo in the Senate, comes almost exactly a year after the Legislature passed New York’s medical marijuana bill and almost 10 months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.

To date, not one patient has received medical marijuana, and at least four children, who might have benefitted from medical marijuana, have died since the bill was passed.

New York: Officials Join Patients, Families Supporting Emergency Medical Marijuana Access

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Abandoned by Cuomo, Families Turn to Legislature for Relief in Final Days of Legislative Session

Bill Would Create Emergency Access Program to Provide Relief to Suffering Children

Nearly a year since the medical marijuana law passed in New York in June 2014, patients and families will gather in Albany to urge lawmakers to pass a bill that would create an emergency access program so that critically ill patients could access medical marijuana.

Since the law passed, not one patient has been able to access medical marijuana and at least four children from across New York State have tragically died while waiting to obtain this much-needed medicine.

In the final days of the legislative session, patients and advocates will gather in Albany to call on the New York Assembly and Senate to pass legislation that would create an emergency access program for patients with the most urgent need – including children suffering from severe epilepsy.

The bill – A.7060 (Gottfried) / S. 5086 (Griffo) – has bi-partisan support including, co-sponsor Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb. The bill is expected to pass the Assembly, and advocates are calling on the Senate to move swiftly to pass the bill before the end of the legislative session next week.

Compassionate Care NY will hold a Tuesday press conference urging passage of the bill, which is likely to be voted on by the full Assembly early this week.

What: Press conference on legislation to create emergency access to medical marijuana

Who:

-Representatives of the Drug Policy Alliance

New York: Bipartisan Legislation Introduced To Expedite Medical Marijuana Access

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Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb Join as Co-Sponsors

Patients & Families Rally in Albany to Demand Emergency Access Before More Loved Ones Die

Patients, family members and activists stood with legislators on Tuesday as they announced the introduction of Assembly bill A. 7060, which would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible. The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, comes 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law on July 5, and nine months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.

To date, not one patient has received any medical marijuana, and at least three children who might have benefitted from medical marijuana have died since the bill was passed.

“This bill would create emergency access to medical marijuana for patients with the most urgent needs – including children suffering from severe epilepsy,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of the original medical marijuana bill. “Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and I introducing this bill shows the broad, bipartisan support for emergency access.

New York: Bill Would Create Emergency Access To Medical Marijuiana

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Patients & Families Hold Press Conference in Albany as Bill Reviewed by Assembly Health Committee

The 2014 limited medical marijuana law leaves many New Yorkers continuing to suffer from severe and debilitating conditions that could be made better by use of marijuana under medical supervision.

As the Compassionate Care Act (CCA) will not take effect until at least 2016, new legislation has been introduced to create an emergency access program for patients with the most urgent needs – including children suffering from severe epilepsy.

The new bill – A.7060 – is sponsored by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) will hold a press conference announcing the bill, which is also scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

Press conference on the introduction of emergency medical marijuana legislation

Who:

• Patients

• Healthcare providers

• Representatives of the Drug Policy Alliance

• Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried

• Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb

Tuesday, April 28, 11 AM

Where: LCA Hallway (Assembly side)

NYS Capital

Assembly Health Committee meeting including emergency medical marijuana legislation

When:

Tuesday, April 28, at the call of the Speaker

(Meeting will be held off the floor)

Where:

Speaker’s conference room

342 Capital

New York: Another Child Dies Waiting For Emergency Access To Medical Marijuana

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Family’s Pleas for Relief for Little Donella Nocera Went Unheeded

Families, Advocates Call Upon Governor Cuomo to Immediately Help Suffering New Yorkers

Eight-year-old Donella Nocera of Niagra Falls died on Thursday while waiting for emergency access to medical marijuana to ease her end-of-life suffering.

Donella was fighting Stage 4 brain cancer. Her father, Nate, joined Compassionate Care NY from Donella’s bedside, fighting for emergency access for his daughter and pleading with Governor Cuomo to take action. This October, the Times-Union published Nate’s powerful op-ed about his fight to ease his daughter’s pain.

“More than five months after Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law that was meant to bring vital treatment to our family, my daughter Donella is dead," said Nate Nocera. "Governor Cuomo, I know you cannot turn back time to get us the medical marijuana that could have slowed the aggressive growth of the tumor in her brain.

"I know you cannot give us back the days, turned into weeks, turned into months that we lost Donella to a narcotic-induced sleep," Nocera said. "But you have the power to end the needless suffering of so many New York families, and I urge you to use it.

New York: Gov. Cuomo, Lawmakers Want To Speed Up Medical Marijuana Program

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Members of Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration this week met with about a dozen medical marijuana advocates as some New York lawmakers called on Cuomo to speed up the process of making cannabis available to patients in need.

Meeting with the advocates on Monday were Deputy Secretary of Health Courtney Burke and Howard Zucker of the New York Department of Health, reports Jon Campbell at PressConnects. Last week, bill sponsors wrote to Gov. Cuomo, urging him to consider different ways to get medical marijuana to terminally ill patients more quickly.

Under New York's new medical marijuana law, the Department of Health has 18 months to get the state's system up and running.

The purpose of Monday's meeting was to keep the lines of communication open with advocates as the state begins to implement the program, Westchester County resident Kate Hintz, whose daughter Morgan, 3, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy.

"I'm pleased that they have opened a dialogue with advocates and parents, such as myself," Hintz said. "I think that there are ways that we can safely and efficaciously provide medicine sooner than an 18-month time period."

New York Becomes 23rd Medical Marijuana State - But No Smoking

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Hope is On the Way for Thousands of Seriously Ill New Yorkers, Despite Flawed Bill

Patients, Caregivers and Healthcare Providers Praise Lawmakers and Vow to Fight for Improvements

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly on Friday passed a medical marijuana bill, making New York the 23rd state to create legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. After days of tense negotiations, the bill was passed in the final hours of the legislative session on Friday.

Governor Cuomo has said he will sign the bill into law. The bill will provide relief for thousands of New York patients suffering from serious and debilitating conditions – such as cancer, MS, and epilepsy, by allowing the use of medical marijuana under the supervision of their physician.

Patients, caregivers and providers watched from the gallery as the Senate debated and then voted 49 to 10 in favor of the bill.

Late last week, Governor Cuomo announced a series of last-minute changes that he wanted to the bill. The bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino, worked tirelessly to accommodate the Governor’s concerns so that a deal could move forward.

New York: Governor, Legislature Announce Medical Marijuana Program; No Smoking Allowed

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Senate, Assembly and Governor Announce Medical Marijuana Deal

Thousands Will Still Benefit, Although Bill Excludes Smoked Marijuana

The New York Assembly, Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a deal to move forward on a limited medical marijuana program, which makes New York the 23rd state to adopt such a program. The new law will provide relief to thousands of New Yorkers suffering from debilitating illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, as well as children struggling with seizure disorders.

Although the final bill language has not yet been released, advocates were pleased to hear that there had been a breakthrough in Albany. As recently as yesterday, it was unclear that an agreement could be reached between the Governor and legislative leaders on behalf of thousands of patients and their caregivers who have demanded passage of the Compassionate Care Act, which recently passed the Assembly.

Information currently available about the bill suggests that it has some serious limitations and restrictions. For example, the bill would prohibit smoking, restrict any access to the raw plant form of marijuana. The number of producers and dispensaries is also reportedly extremely limited, raising questions about whether the system will be able to meet the needs of patients in New York.

“New York has finally done something significant for thousands of patients who are suffering and need relief now," said gabriel sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance. "They will benefit from this compromise.

New York: With Clock Running Out, Patients and Caregivers Urge Passage of Medical Marijuana Law

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Last Day of the Legislative Session Arrives as Negotiations Between Governor, Senate and Assembly Continue

Patients & Families to Deliver Thousands of Signatures to Albany Leadership, Demanding Action: “Don’t Make Us Wait Another Year for Relief -- Bring the Bill to the Senate Floor Today!”

On what is scheduled to be the last day of New York’s legislative session, dozens of patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers will gather in Albany on Thursday to deliver thousands of petition signatures urging Governor Cuomo and Senate leaders to pass the Compassionate Care Act.

Although many are sick and disabled, they will travel from all over the state — New York City, Western New York, Long Island, and Central New York — to make final pleas to the Legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act – A.6357-D (Gottfried) / S.4406-D (Savino) — before it’s too late. The bill would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs and allow seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

On Monday, more than 100 advocates rallied in Albany chanting “Pass the Compassionate Care Act” in the hopes that state lawmakers would hear their cries for compassion. The Governor, bill sponsors, and leadership in both houses are still negotiating to try and reach agreement on the bill.

New York: 100+ Patients and Advocates Travel To Albany To Urge Passage of Medical Marijuana Law

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Negotiations Between Senate, Assembly and Governor Continue as Deadline for Passage of Compassionate Care Act Approaches

Patients & Families Demand Action: “Don’t Make Us Wait Another Year for Relief!”

With only two days left in the legislative session, more than 100 patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers will gather in Albany for rallies urging Governor Cuomo and Senate leaders to pass the Compassionate Care Act before it's too late. They will travel from all over the state -- New York City, Western New York, Long Island, and Central New York -- to push the Legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act -- A.6357-D (Gottfried) / S.4406-D (Savino) – before the end of legislative session on Thursday, June 19.

The bill would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs and allow seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

Governor Cuomo on Monday issued a set of last minute demands related to the legislation, and lawmakers amended the bill to account for many of those concerns. But some of Cuomo’s demands were rejected as they would have made the program unworkable and leave thousands of patients to suffer needlessly.

The Governor, bill sponsors, and leadership in both houses are still negotiating to try and reach agreement on the bill. If an agreement is not reached this week, patients and families will be left to suffer another year.

New York: Legislators Amend Medical Marijuana Bill To Address Demands Of Gov. Cuomo

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As End of Session Nears, Patients, Families and Advocates Push Senate and Cuomo to Finally Pass Compassionate Care Act

Healthcare Providers Travel to Albany to Demonstrate Support for Medical Marijuana

Healthcare professionals and patients on Tuesday continued their response to Governor Cuomo’s demands on medical marijuana. Patients and healthcare professionals are gathering in Albany to push lawmakers to vote on the Compassionate Care Act, and healthcare professionals who couldn’t travel to Albany issued strong statements in support of the bill.

The Compassionate Care Act would create the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana program and allow patients with serious and debilitating conditions to access a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider. The action and statements come just a day after Governor Cuomo issued a series of last minute demands to amend the bill, some of which are considered “poison pills” by patients, caregivers and providers.

Even though Cuomo broke off negotiations around the bill, the bill sponsors, Sen. Savino and Assm. Gottfried, amended the legislation to account for many of the Governor’s concerns.

Patients and healthcare providers are outraged by Governor Cuomo’s attempt to derail the legislation. Providers were particularly disturbed by Cuomo’s claims that the bill had little support from the medical community.

New York: Gov. Cuomo Undermines Medical Marijuana; Makes Last-Minute Demands To Sink Bill

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For Years, Governor Ignored Pleas by Patients and Advocates to Work Together on Legislation

Outraged Patients and Families Demand Governor Stop Playing Politics With Peoples Lives; Senate Should Vote Immediately

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday leaked to the media his list of changes he wants made to New York’s comprehensive medical marijuana bill -– the Compassionate Care Act –- before he’ll support it. The full list of changes, which has been obtained by advocates, puzzlingly includes many demands already addressed in the current legislation.

Additionally, bill sponsors have already agreed to make a number of changes to satisfy the governor. But the list includes “poison pills”, like eliminating serious conditions, including Alzheimer’s, ALS, and muscular dystrophy, and preventing cancer patients and those living with HIV/AIDS from using medical marijuana to treat the side effects of their medications and chemotherapy, such as nausea, wasting, and pain associated with those treatments.

The Governor wants to eliminate post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury, conditions which affect veterans at high rates and for which medical marijuana is beneficial. Cuomo also wants to eliminate any timelines for implementation and add a sunset clause to the bill, despite the fact that the legislation already gives the governor nearly full control over the entire program.

New York: Third Republican State Senator Now Co-Sponsors Medical Marijuana Bill

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Republican Support for Medical Marijuana Builds After GOP-Led U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bipartisan Bill Directing Feds to Respect State Marijuana Laws

Patients, Families and Advocates Cheer Maziarz and New York Times Editorial, Travel to Albany Monday to Demand Vote in Senate Finance Committee

In a another strong sign of growing GOP support for medical marijuana, new York State Senate Vice President Pro Tempore George Maziarz (R-Lockport) has signed on as co-sponsor of the Compassionate Care Act ( S.4406-B (Savino)), which would allow eligible patients with serious and debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

In February, Maziarz became one of the first Senate Republicans to publicly announce his support for the Compassionate Care Act along with Senators Grisanti and Robach. Since then then, they’ve been joined by O’Mara, Bonacic and Larkin, who also announced their support. Maziarz, the third-highest ranking member of the Senate Republicans, joins Sen. Robach and Grisanti as Republican a co-sponsor.

Patients, healthcare providers and advocates with the statewide Compassionate Care NY coalition praised Sen. Maziarz and called on Senate leadership to finally allow a vote on the measure.

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