New York State Senator Diane Savino introduced a bill today that would legalize medical marijuana in New York state.
Under the Compassionate Care Act, doctors will be authorized to give out certifications for marijuana use for patients with serious medical conditions.
Certified patients or designated caregivers will be allowed to possess up to two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana.
People with medical marijuana certifications would be issued registry identification cards by the Department of Health.
The authorizing document is a certification, not a prescription, because "prescription" is a federal Drug Enforcement Agency term, so it legally cannot be prescribed until it is no longer classified as a Schedule 1 drug, according to Evan Nison at the New York Cannabis Alliance.
Nisan said that "advocates feel confident that this might be the year New York finally joins the other 18 states around the country that have medical marijuana laws."
Adam Scavone, president of the New York Cannabis Alliance, has worked with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and says that researchers are increasingly having success using marijuana to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"In this country, 22 veterans per day are committing suicide, a 20 percent increase from just five years ago," Scavone said. "We know cannabis is useful in treating PTSD and we can save veterans lives, by passing this law."
According to Scavone, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists around the country are laying the groundwork for a market that could reach $1.5 billion in legal sales in 2013 alone.
The equivalent Assembly bill was introduced today as well. They Assembly has passed similar legislation previously, so advocates don't anticipate any problems in that chamber, Nison said.
It will likely be two to three months before there is a vote, however, as the bill makes its way through the committee process.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has previously expressed opposition to legalizing marijuana for medical use.
When asked if the governor would veto the bill if it was passed by the legislature, his office responded, "We will review the bill if it passes the Legislature."
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