The origins of New York’s newly legislated Medical Marijuana Law date back over 20 years ago when previous New York State Governors have advocated for the legalization of Marijuana. However only recently has there been sufficient support to successfully pass the bill through the New York state senate (McKinley, 2014). The New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo proposed the Bill to legalize medical marijuana in May, 2014 to the state assembly after an initial program for its implementation was signed off by the Governor in January, 2014. It further passed through the state assembly and was subsequently presented to the State Senate in June, 2014. The bill passed the State Senate by 49-10 votes on 20 June, 2014, an overwhelming response given the republican’s conservative and fruitless views over the prospects of the bill for the state of New York. The overall timeframe of the bill is one year however advocacy for the legalization of medical marijuana has been ongoing for decades (Gannett, 2014).
Two key legislators who were crucial in helping the bill pass through the senate were Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, and Senator Savino representing Staten Island. These two legislators were also joined by Tracy Ofri, President of the Multiple Sclerosis Support Group on Long Island and, Dr Robert Fuentes, a Medical Practitioner and prominent leader in the New York Medical Industry (Gannett, 2014).
Key elements and components covered by the new Medical Marijuana Bill include the ability for a seriously ill patient to register at the New York State Department of Health and be provided with a personal identification license which permits them to source and use medical marijuana to treat their respective ailments. The Bill covers New York residents who are suffering from potentially life threatening illnesses such as AIDS, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy and bowel disease. To be illegible to receive marijuana based treatment for such illnesses, residents need to gain a written recommendation from their doctor and be registered under the state of New York. They must only be administered marijuana under the supervision of a qualified practitioner (McKinley, 2014).
The political appeal of such a bill involves largely, advocacy for human rights. It reassures the New York public and those who are unwell, that the state is aware of their needs and requirements and intends on changing laws and due process to cover these requirements and their respective needs. It also brings hope to those you require alternative pathways of treatment and to other members of public trying to advocate and pass through the senate other human rights related bills. For republican politicians, this bill symbolizes a potential push towards bipartisanship and steering away from overly conservative lines of politics. For democrats, this bill reaffirms their views on human rights and claims to refining American processes for the better (McKinley, 2014).
Related political issues unfavorable to Republic politicians focus mainly on passing the Bill. The views of the majority of republicans on this issue is that the Bill threatens the livelihood of children and families when marijuana becomes more accessible and that this law will be violated regardless of what restrictions are enforced; whereas Democratic opinion is criticized via the numerous restrictions that have been enforced to prevent the widespread distribution of the drug in comparison to other states such as Washington (Gannett, 2014).
My professional concerns in relation to this bill focus on residents abusing its components and illegally gaining access to marijuana that has been legally administered by doctors. I am also concerned about ethical consequences in relation to families and children being exposed to those who have access to marijuana.
In order to actively support the Bill, community education should be centered on its benefits to those who are suffering from potentially fatal diseases and how marijuana is only necessary for these residents. The risks of illegal marijuana use should also be highlighted at community forums, events and in educational programs most significantly at schools. Consciousness raising in the media is also essential and can include tv advertising that exposes the risks of illegally taking marijuana including risks to health and the safety and freedom of New York residents and also how those who medically require marijuana are most in need within society. Finally, practice related research can also support the Bill by raising awareness about the health benefits of marijuana to those people with disease.
- Gannett, J. (2014). NY Legislature passes medical marijuana bill; Cuomo to sign.
USA Today, Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/20/ny-set-to-legalize-medical- marijuana-/11033195/ Accessed on 15 July 2015
- McKinley, J. (2014). New York Assembly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill. New York
Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/nyregion/assembly- backs-use-of-marijuana-for-illnesses.html?_r=0 Accessed on 15 July 2015