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article imageNew York set to legalize medical marijuana

By Tim Sandle     Jun 13, 2014 in Health
New York - New York is set to become the latest U.S. state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. A key vote is set to take place this month.
In May 2014, the New York state Senate Health Committee passed the Compassionate Care Act, which included provisions for allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. If passed, The Daily Chronic notes, New York will become the 23rd U.S. state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The next for the Act, 13Wham reports, which was supported by Richard Gottfried and state Senator Diane Savino, is to go before the finance committee. If this clears, the final stage is for the Act to be brought to the floor for a full vote. If cleared, the Act would be presented to Governor Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.
This final part could prove to be the trickiest, for Governor Cuomo has indicated that he is not keen on the use of medical marijuana. However, there are signs that he would be willing to sanction the use of marijuana for medical purposes with strict controls in place and the provisos within the Compassionate Care Act appears to provide such controls for the use of medical marijuana for the seriously ill.
According to the organization Compassionate Care: “To become eligible to receive medical marijuana, patients must be certified by a healthcare practitioner who is licensed to prescribe controlled substances (i.e., physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner) as having a severely debilitating or life-threatening illness for which marijuana is likely to have a therapeutic or palliative benefit. The certification lasts for a year and then has to be renewed.”
This is certainly the view of the New York medical establishment. Earlier this year a poll of doctors based in New York indicated that the majority backed the use of marijuana for medical use on the grounds of ‘compassionate care’.
In terms of serious illness, various scientific studies have shown that medical marijuana can aid certain illnesses. These include cancer, viral diseases and Multiple Sclerosis. The strong-line of medical support has also backed-up by a recent survey commissioned by the New England Journal of Medicine. The poll showed that three-quarters of doctors in the U.S., when a specific case study was put to them, would approve the use of the medical marijuana to help ease pain in an older woman with advanced breast cancer.
The medicinal properties of medical marijuana relate to the chemical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant. THC extracts have been shown to have a useful neuroprotective effect in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases.
It is with the weight of such scientific studies that the trajectory towards the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes is gaining momentum across the U.S. Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The policy across these states is not a one-size-fits-all approach for the amount that any individual can possess and where the marijuana can be consumed varies considerably. Despite the variations within the areas that have approved marijuana use so far, there is a strong possibility that New York could become number 23.
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