Marijuana Debate in New York Turns To Smoking
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Marijuana Debate in New York Turns To Smoking
Posted by CN Staff on June 17, 2014 at 05:36:11 PT
By Erica Orden
Source: Wall Street Journal 
Albany -- The debate over legalizing medicinal marijuana on Monday turned to a new issue as opponents and advocates argued over whether patients should be allowed to smoke the drug when it is prescribed.Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after days of expressing veiled concerns about full-scale legalization of medical pot, was more explicit on Monday about his issues with a bill working its way toward a vote in the Senate. Central among them: prescribing marijuana in smokable form.
"There are concerns, and if we can address the concerns, then there will be a bill. But I'm not going to be part of a system that is just going to wreak havoc," Mr. Cuomo said on the radio program "Capitol Pressroom."The bill's sponsor, Sen. Diane Savino, appeared on the same show Monday, saying eliminating smokable marijuana was a "non-starter." She said: "We've done everything possible to mitigate the issue of smoking but health-care professionals who prescribe medical marijuana and patient advocates will be the first to tell you that smoking marijuana is the only way that will provide the relief that they need. It is easier to manage the dosage."Ms. Savino's bill would allow health-care professionals to prescribe the drug in smokable form to patients over the age of 21. It would also create a regulated growth and distribution system for marijuana and allow the drug to be prescribed in other forms, such as vapor.If the Legislature accommodated the governor's concerns, it would be only the second state, besides Minnesota, to enact a medical-marijuana bill banning the drug in smokable form.Mr. Cuomo has some law-enforcement officials on his side. Steve Heider, president of the New York Association of Chiefs of Police, said the organization is "dead-set against anything that involves a smokable form.""We're not Neanderthals," Mr. Heider said. "We understand there are people out there who could use this for certain illnesses." But he said smokable pot isn't produced with a method that is "proven to be clean, proven to be proper dosing."He also frowned upon the last-minute nature of the negotiations, given that the last day of the legislative session is Thursday. "That's not the way major medical bills should be passed, where people just sort of wheel and deal" at deadline, he said.But advocates such as Gabriel Sayegh, director of the New York state office of the Drug Policy Alliance, said smokable marijuana is sometimes the only viable option for certain patients, such as a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy who might not be able to swallow pills or fully consume anything edible. "We'd like to see a bill that allows health-care providers to determine the mode of ingestion," he said.Either way, legislative leaders and the bill's sponsors don't have much time left. On Monday, Senate Majority Coalition Co-leader Dean Skelos, a Republican who hasn't committed to bringing the bill to the floor for a vote, said he had "learned never to say never in this business. I'm not ruling it out, I'm not ruling it [in]."Said Ms. Savino: "There is no logical reason not to do this bill. You have suggestions? Bring them forward. The clock is ticking."óMike Vilensky contributed to this article.Source: Wall Street Journal (US)Author:  Erica OrdenPublished: June 16, 2014Copyright: 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.Contact: wsj.ltrs wsj.comWebsite:  Medical Marijuana  Archives 
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