Assemblymember Kevin Cahill: Medical Marijuana Bill to Assist Seriously Ill Patients Passes Assembly

June 14, 2007

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced today that the Assembly passed legislation allowing the use of marijuana to treat serious, life-threatening illnesses under a doctor’s supervision (A.4867-A). This measure is a pilot program that will expire four years after becoming law.

“There are seriously ill New Yorkers with life-threatening medical conditions who would benefit from the use of medical marijuana,” Mr. Cahill said. “This carefully crafted legislation reflects our compassion for those who need to alleviate their chronic pain and suffering. Medical studies have proven that the drug can offer relief to HIV/AIDS and cancer patients and others suffering from life-threatening conditions, and can be very beneficial and effective for people who don’t respond well to other medications.”

This legislation would:

  • allow a certified patient or designated caregiver with a valid registry ID card to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 12 plants;
  • authorize the state Department of Health to issue ID cards to certified patients and designated caregivers;
  • allow doctors to certify the use of marijuana for intervals of up to one year for patients suffering from life-threatening conditions – only if the doctor determines it would be more effective than other drugs; and
  • bar patients from using marijuana in public places.

While the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, has been approved for medical use by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency since 1986 in synthetic pill form, consuming the drug in its natural form – which physicians say is more effective – remains illegal under federal law.

Assemblymember Cahill added that in the last two months, New Mexico has legalized the use of medical marijuana and a similar measure recently passed the Connecticut legislature and is on the Governor’s desk for action. He stressed however, that legalizing the medical use of effective medicine does not undermine the message that non-medical use of illegal drugs is wrong.

“Many controlled substances that are legal for medical use, including morphine, Valium and steroids, are otherwise illegal,” Mr. Cahill noted. “It is inappropriate to allow physicians to prescribe powerful opiates to relieve pain, but not marijuana. I urge the Senate and Governor to help make this bill law.”