A Dose of Compassion
Published: April 18, 2012
Medical marijuana, which can help relieve pain and nausea in patients
with cancer and other illnesses, is now available in the District of
Columbia and 16 states, including New Jersey. There is no reason
patients in New York State, who are under the care of doctors, should be
deprived of this useful treatment.
Yet Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stubbornly resisted efforts to make medical marijuana legal, even in strictly controlled ways. He said last week
that “the risks outweigh the benefits” for this medical option and that
the state already has a “terrible problem” with drug abuse.
But with strong state regulations, similar to those adopted in New
Jersey, the dispensing of medicinal marijuana would not increase the
risk of illegal use of the drug. A bill being considered in the
Legislature, sponsored by State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman
Richard Gottfried, both Democrats, would create one of the nation’s
strictest regimens for dispensing marijuana.
A health care professional who is qualified to prescribe medications
would have to certify that a patient has enough of a “severe,
debilitating or life-threatening” illness to use medical marijuana. The
certification could last up to a year, and during that time, the patient
must register with the state health department and be issued an ID card
for use at a state-licensed dispensary. The maximum amount of the
certified marijuana that a patient would be allowed to possess at any
one time is 2.5 ounces.
Lawmakers should pass this bill and make it possible for patients to
obtain small, legal doses of medical marijuana that could relieve their