New York could be just days away from legalizing medical marijuana, according to Richard N. Gottfried, the Assembly sponsor of New York’s medical marijuana bill S4041B. This bill, which would add NY to the 14 other medical marijuana states, would give seriously ill patients in New York legal and safe access to medical marijuana. But how can it get passed? There are two options.
Option 1: Bundled in the State Budget
For New York’s medical marijuana bill to pass in the budget, it has to be in the final, mutually agreed upon language of the budget. In order for this to happen the Senate, the Assembly, and the Governor all have to accept it in the final compromised version of the budget. Currently, the Senate and the Assembly have their own budget proposals and a medical marijuana provision is in the in Senate’s proposal. It is very likely, however, that the Assembly will agree to this provision since they’ve passed less restrictive medical marijuana legislation in past years.
Option 2: As Its Own Bill
In order for the NY Medical Marijuana law to pass as its own bill, it would have to go through the Senate Finance Committee before making its way to the full floor for a vote in the Senate. Then, if approved, all the Assembly would have to do is vote on their bill with identical language as the one passed by the Senate. This should be no problem since the Assembly has consistently supported medical marijuana in the past.
Just in the past two months in the Senate, S4041B was passed by the Health Committee and the Codes Committee making this is the furthest the bill has gotten in the 10+ years that the state has been considering legalizing medical cannabis. Not only has it gotten further than ever before, but the momentum is building rapidly due to the publicity generated after each committee vote, and because of the efforts of patient advocate groups such as NY Patients First who recently unveiled a billboard to promote medical marijuana legislation.
With two likely options, it’s fair to say that New York is poised to become the 15th state to legalize medical cannabis. But every bit of public support helps. Click here to learn how to help legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients in New York.
Evan is a Director of NY Patients Fist, the Ballot Initiative Coordinator for NORML-NJ, President of Ithaca College’s chapter of SSDP, and a member of the Volunteer Steering Committee for the California Tax and Regulate Campaign.