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New York: Faith Leaders Join Patients, Families Calling On Legislature To Pass Medical Marijuana Bill

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Dozens of Patients, Caregivers, Providers and Faith Leaders Travel from Across the State to Demand Passage of Compassionate Care Act

Advocates Call on New York Senate Leaders to Stop Delays and Allow a Vote to Stop the Needless Suffering of Sick New Yorkers

Dozens of patients, caregivers and healthcare providers on Wednesday travelled from all corners of New York -– including Buffalo, Long Island, Syracuse, Hudson Valley, and New York City -– to call on the Senate to pass the comprehensive medical marijuana proposal known as Compassionate Care Act. The Compassionate Care Act would allow seriously ill New Yorkers access to medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

The bill has passed the Assembly four times, was included in the Assembly’s budget proposal, and has strong bipartisan support in the Senate. But New York Senate leaders have refused to let the bill come up for a vote.

Patients and caregivers were joined by faith leaders who called on senate to stop delaying to show the sick suffering some compassion and mercy.

“As a Bishop and spiritual caregiver in New York City, I have met and spoken with hundreds of New Yorkers who are suffering with chronic illnesses,” said Bishop Dr. Michael Clark, Pastor at Redeemers Tabernacle and President of the NYPD 83rd Precinct Clergy Council. “It is my responsibility to them, and all New Yorkers to advocate for the passage of the Compassionate Care Act.

New York: For First Time Ever, Assembly Includes Medical Marijuana In One-House Budget Bill

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As Assembly Gathered To Vote, Patients, Caregivers and Healthcare Providers from Across NY Descended on Albany to Demand Senate Join Assembly and Deliver the Compassionate Care Act to Cuomo for Signature

Day of Actions Include Public Hearing on Bill, Evening Event in Nearby Latham, and Powerful New Video About Patients, Doctors and the Compassionate Care Act

The New York State Assembly on Wednesday introduced and passed their one-house budget proposal, which, for the first time ever, includes the New York’s comprehensive medical marijuana proposal – the Compassionate Care Act (A.6357-A -Gottfried) / S.4406-A -Savino). As the Assembly gathered to pass the measure, dozens of patients, families, caregivers and healthcare providers descended on Albany to press the State Senate to pass the Compassionate Care Act.

The patients are living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe seizure disorders, and other serious, debilitating medical conditions, and the families include parents of children who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome. They participated in a public hearing on medical marijuana, then met with legislators throughout the day and, finally, attended a free public event about medical marijuana Wednesday night in Latham at the HopeClub.

New York: GOP Support Growing For Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill

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Republican State Senator, Joe Robach, and Former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato, Announce Support for Compassionate Care Act

Patients, Families, Doctors, Advocates: No More Delays, It’s Time for the State Senate to Vote

Senator Joseph Robach (R, C, IP – Rochester) stated his support for the Compassionate Care Act in a Monday meeting with the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. The bill would allow New Yorkers with serious and debilitating conditions to access to medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

Senator Robach is the third senate Republican to announce his support for the Compassionate Care Act. Last week, two Western Region Republicans -- State Senator George Maziarz (R - Newfane) and State Senator Mark Grisanti (R, IP - Buffalo) -– declared their support and called for a vote.

The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester has worked tirelessly to secure support for the Compassionate Care Act and released a statement Monday with comments by its leaders and members applauding the Senator’s leadership in supporting a comprehensive legislative solution to help seriously ill New Yorkers. Caregivers and patients also applauded the Senator’s support.

“As a constituent and a mother of child with a severe seizure disorder that would be alleviated by the use of medical marijuana, I am thrilled that Senator Robach stated his support for the Compassionate Care Act,” said Christine Emerson of Rochester. “Too many seriously ill New Yorkers, including my daughter Julia have suffered long enough.

New York: Majority Support Medical Marijuana Legislation In New Poll

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Patients and Advocates: Now It's Time for the Senate to Pass the Compassionate Care Act

A poll released on Monday by Siena College found that a clear majority of New Yorkers -- including 60 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of conservatives -- support passing legislation as the best way to "proceed on this issue" of establishing patient access to medical marijuana in New York.

The poll's release comes a day after reports of President Barack Obama discussing the need for marijuana policy reform in an interview in The New Yorker, and after last week’s announcement by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he supports medical marijuana.

Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced his support for medical marijuana and outlined a proposal to use his executive authority to launch a medical marijuana research program in New York. Advocates hailed Cuomo’s shift on the issue and noted that, because a research program would not create effective patient access, legislation is still necessary to create a medical marijuana system in New York.

"This poll reinforces what we already know: critically and chronically ill New Yorkers need a comprehensive bill for relief, namely the Compassionate Care Act, to be passed in the Senate during this 2014 legislative session," said Nancy Rivera, a four-time cancer survivor from Troy, New York. "We must not and should not have to wait any longer for a medical marijuana system to be put in place in our state. The Senate should immediately pass the Compassionate Care Act."

New York: Patients, Families, Healthcare Providers Rally For Medical Marijuana Law

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Tuesday: Assembly Health Committee to Vote on “Compassionate Care Act”

Broad Coalition Unites Behind Comprehensive Bill

On Monday, the first full day of the 2014 New York State Senate session, dozens of patients, families, caregivers and healthcare providers gathered in Albany for a press conference and lobby day to call on the State Senate to pass and Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the Compassionate Care Act -- A.6357-A (Gottfried) / S.4406-A (Savino).

People living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, and other serious, debilitating medical conditions; healthcare providers; and the parents of children who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy, such as Dravet’s syndrome, travelled from all corners of the State to call on the Senate to pass and the Governor to support the Compassionate Care Act, comprehensive legislation that would allow seriously ill New Yorkers access to medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

The lobby day comes on the heels of Governor Cuomo’s announcement last week in his State of the State address that he supports medical marijuana. The medical efficacy of medical marijuana has been well established in the scientific literature, and the feasibility of establishing comprehensive, statewide medical marijuana programs has been clearly demonstrated in the 20 states and the District of Columbia which have passed bills to establish such programs.

New York: Gov. Cuomo To Support Medical Marijuana In State of the State Address

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Patients, Advocates, Elected Officials and Major Newspaper Editorials Praise Cuomo and Urge Him to Back Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Legislation

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will use his State of the State address to announce his support for medical marijuana for patients in New York. After years of opposing medical marijuana, the turnaround by Gov. Cuomo is making national headlines.

As an immediate step, the Governor will bypass the Legislature – where comprehensive legislation has stalled for years in the Senate – and take executive action to revive a 1980 law that allows the state to establish a limited medical marijuana research program.

The 1980 law established the Antonio G. Olivieri Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Program, which ran briefly in New York until being shut down in the early 1990s. Cuomo administration officials told The New York Times that the program would involve distributing medical marijuana through 20 hospitals statewide, and the Department of Health would be charged with promulgating regulations.

Critical questions remain as yet unanswered -- such as, what patients would be eligible, or where the marijuana for the program would come from. Administration officials have suggested they would obtain marijuana from the federal government or from supplies seized by law enforcement, but those options, while specifically outlined in the 1980 Olivieri law, are both unlikely and pose significant safety risks to patients.

New York: Governor Cuomo To Establish Medical Marijuana Program Through Executive Action

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

There's more than one way to get it done. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday will announce in his State of the State address that he plans to bypass the Legislature and sign an executive order creating an interim medical marijuana program, based on an existing public law from 1980 that allows the use of controlled substances to treat serious illnesses.

The program will involve distributing medical marijuana through 20 hospitals statewide to patients who meet a narrow list of qualifying conditions. Details of the program will be determined through regulations, which will be established by the Department of Health with input by experts.

The move by Governor Cuomo, who had long opposed medical marijuana, is likely to have a constructive, transformative impact on the medical marijuana debate in Albany and across the country, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

While the Governor's move falls well short of full legalization, report Susanne Craig and Jesse McKinley at The New York Times, it does move the Empire State, which has long been one of the worst states for harsh drug laws, closer to policies being supported by cannabis advocates and lawmakers elsewhere in the U.S.

New York: Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced In State Senate

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Public Opinion, Wasted Tax Dollars and Racially Discriminatory Arrests Push Legislators to Fix Broken Marijuana Policies

Colorado, Washington, and Now Uruguay Offer Sensible Models and Precedent for Reform

New York State Senator Liz Krueger on Wednesday introduced a bill to tax and regulate marijuana for adult use. The bill would end the criminalization of adults 18 years and older who possess up to two ounces of marijuana and would create a regulatory system allowing for the retail sale of marijuana to those over the age of 21, much like the current system for regulating alcohol. Recent polls show a majority of Americans now support taxing and regulating marijuana.

New York’s current marijuana policies are widely recognized as broken. About 600,000 people, mostly young black and Latino men, have been arrested for marijuana possession in the state since 1997, saddling them with criminal records that impede their ability to obtain jobs, student loans, and housing.

“Prohibition of marijuana is a policy that just hasn’t worked, no matter how you look at it, and it’s time to have an honest conversation about what we should do next,” Sen. Krueger said. “The illegal marijuana economy is alive and well, and our unjust laws are branding nonviolent New Yorkers, especially young adults, as criminals, creating a vicious cycle that ruins lives and needlessly wastes taxpayer dollars.

New York City Comptroller Releases Report Detailing Costs of Marijuana Prohibition

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Report Calls for the Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana for Adults

Advocates Demand a Comprehensive Overhaul of New York’s Racially Biased and Broken Marijuana Policies

New York City Comptroller John Liu on Tuesday announced the release of a report calling for a system to tax and regulate marijuana for adult recreational use. The report, to be released Wednesday (August 14), comes two days after Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin condemned the city’s police department’s use of stop and frisk – which has resulted in 600,000 unlawful arrests for marijuana possession since 1997 – as racially-biased.

That same day, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for Americans to rethink the “unintended consequences” of the War On Drugs. Comptroller Liu’s report details the problems associated with marijuana arrests in New York City -- including racial disparities and the impact of saddling young people with a permanent criminal arrest record -- and the overall financial costs of marijuana prohibition.

The report comes at a time when the federal government and states around the country are engaged in a significant review of drug policies generally and marijuana policies in particular. On Monday, Attorney General Holder noted that the war on drugs has resulted in “the decimation of certain communities, in particular of communities of color” and directed federal prosecutors to develop guidelines for some drug sentencing issues to be handled on the state or local level.

New York: Assembly Passes Bill To Allow Medical Marijuana

(Graphic: The Daily Chronic)Healthcare Practitioners and Patients Urge New York Senate to Pass Bill Without Delay

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New York State Assembly on Monday, for the fourth time, passed a medical marijuana bill; it now goes to the New York Senate.

The Assembly approved the Compassionate Care Act (A.6357/Gottfried) by a vote of 95 to 38. The bill, which would create one the most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs in the country, would help alleviate the suffering of thousands of seriously ill New Yorkers by allowing the use of marijuana to treat debilitating, life-threatening illnesses under a doctor’s supervision.

The Compassionate Care Act – A.6357 (Gottfried) / S. 4406 (Savino) – would allow practitioners to talk to their patients about medical marijuana and certify those with serious, debilitating illnesses, so that they may have access to a small amount of medical marijuana to relieve their symptoms.

“New Yorkers living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses have waited long enough,” said gabriel sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance's New York Policy Office. “This is a simple matter of compassion.

"This is the fourth time the State Assembly has passed a medical marijuana bill," sayegh pointed out. "Now it’s long past time for the State Senate to act. The science is clear. The moral and ethical needs are obvious.

New York: Community Groups Demand An End To Costly 'Stop-and-Frisk' Marijuana Arrests

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New Poll: At Least 60% of All Voters Continue to Call for Fixing Marijuana Possession Laws, Including Half of Republicans; Poll is Third This Year Showing Strong Majority Support for Reform

Thousands More New Yorkers Have Been Arrested – at Cost of Estimated $7.5 Million – for Possessing Small Amounts of Marijuana Since April 1 When Reform Talks Failed During Budget Negotiation

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus on Wednesday gathered with community groups to demand an end to the biased, costly and deceptive practice of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession every year.

Dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state joined them at a press conference and rally to urge passage of sensible marijuana decriminalization legislation, A.6716A (Camara)/S.3105A (Squadron). The proposal would decriminalize possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana in public view; smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor.

Community members and elected officials are demanding that leadership in Albany make fixing this law a top priority. The bill would help end the practice of arresting tens of thousands of young people per year for possessing marijuana in public view when police demand that someone “empty their pockets” during a stop-and-frisk encounter.

New York: 82% of Voters Support Medical Marijuana

(Graphic: The Daily Chronic)Medical Marijuana Patients and Advocates Call for Immediate Passage of New York’s Bill

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A poll released on Monday by the Siena Research Institute found that 82 percent of New York voters support allowing seriously and terminally ill people to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if recommended by a doctor.

The poll of 623 registered voters also found that Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to support medical marijuana – for both groups, support registered at 81 percent. Meanwhile, members of the Independence and other parties showed even greater support (89 percent), and even 77 percent percent of self-described conservatives were in favor.

A proposal currently pending before the New York Legislature, the Compassionate Care Act – A.6357 (Gottfried) / S.4406 (Savino) – would allow healthcare practitioners to talk to their patients about medical marijuana and certify those with serious, debilitating illnesses so that they may have access to a small amount of medical marijuana to relieve their symptoms. The bill, which would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs, also has the support of hundreds patients and healthcare providers and dozens of organizations across the state.

New York: New Report Shows NYPD Spent 1 Million Hours Making Marijuana Arrests

Photo: The L MagazineBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Report: “One Million Police Hours: Making 440,000 Marijuana Possession Arrests in New York City, 2002-2012”

NYC Has Dubious Distinction of “Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World”; Majority of Those Arrested Are Black and Latino Youth

Report Released As State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Makes Final Push to Pass Marijuana Reform Proposal This Week

A new report released on Tuesday documents the astonishing number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. The report finds that NYPD used approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years.

These, of course, are hours that police officers might have otherwise have spent investigating and solving serious crimes.

The report was prepared by Dr. Harry Levine, Professor of Sociology at Queens College and recognized expert on marijuana possession arrests, at the request of members of the New York City Council and the New York State Legislature.

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