May 27, 2014

Assembly Approves Compassionate Care Act, Moves Toward Legalizing Medical Marijuana
Measure Would Create One of the Nation's Most Closely Monitored Programs, Allowing Medical Use of Marijuana Only Under a Doctor's Supervision

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol today announced the approval of the Compassionate Care Act, a measure that would allow the use of marijuana to treat serious, life-threatening illnesses under the supervision of a licensed health care practitioner (A.6357-B, Gottfried).

"To let New Yorkers with serious illnesses suffer when there is a known, effective alternative to help them simply doesn't make any sense," Speaker Silver said. "If done in the carefully controlled manner the Compassionate Care Act establishes, I firmly believe that allowing the closely monitored use of medical marijuana is a viable, dignified option that will benefit patients suffering from debilitating illnesses."

"More and more states are allowing the use of medical marijuana to treat patients with severe, debilitating illnesses and it's long past time for New York to join them," Gottfried said. "I have heard from countless patients and families who would benefit from the Compassionate Care Act and there is more momentum and support for this measure than ever. We have the opportunity to help so many New Yorkers with this common sense, humane legislation. Now is the time to legalize medical marijuana."

"The legalization of medical marijuana is long overdue," Lentol said. "The Compassionate Care Act would legalize and carefully regulate it, much like we regulate other controlled substances, to ensure that only those who could truly benefit from the use of medical marijuana have access to it without being criminalized. The measure wouldn't open the flood gates to the complete deregulation of a dangerous drug. It would simply alleviate the pain and suffering of countless New Yorkers, and that in and of itself is worth acting on."

The Act would allow medical use of marijuana under a doctor's supervision for patients with cancer or who are suffering from other severely debilitating or life-threatening conditions. The bill would set up one of the strictest medical marijuana programs in the nation. The tightly regulated measure includes provisions that would:

The measure would require registration of organizations that would sell, deliver or distribute medical marijuana to certified patients or designated caregivers. It also establishes an excise tax of 10 percent on the retail price of medical marijuana dispensed. 7.5 percent of the resulting revenue would go to the county where the marijuana was produced and 7.5 percent would go to the county where it was dispensed. Five percent of the revenue would go to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to fund drug abuse prevention and treatment services.