June 17, 2014
By Stephanie West
Albany, NY – The Compassionate Care Act would create a comprehensive medical marijuana program in New York, and is sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island). The bill has already passed in the Assembly by an overwhelming 91-34 vote in May, but has stalled in the Senate where Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco (R-D50) said he would not allow the bill to advance to a vote, blocking the bill’s progress.
Mario Cilento, president of New York State’s A.F.L.-C.I.O. labor union (NYS AFL-CIO) has decided to support the bill with the following statement.
“The medical marijuana issue has been debated not just over the course of this legislative session but for many years; other states have moved forward and its time New York does the same,” Cilento wrote in a statement to union members on Monday.
“We should no longer deny patients, particularly those suffering from pain or extreme discomfort, desperately needed relief and treatment that their doctors deem appropriate…and in whatever form their doctors deem appropriate…for a narrow spectrum of illnesses,” Cilento continued.
“Calls for strict enforcement, regulation and monitoring to ensure appropriate use and keeping it out of the hands of our youth have been heard and addressed. The current bill that has a chance for passage includes appropriate oversight and accountability measures and would provide for stringent regulation of the industry and usage,” Cilento added. “These calls should no longer be an impediment to passage, just as they have not stood in the way of other medicine currently legalized for home use, or for that matter any other product that needs to be handled with care, such as cleaners, pesticides or fertilizers.”
“The argument that this bill will help patients and improve care for thousands of ill New Yorkers should be enough to merit passage,” said Cilento. The bill would also fit into the union’s 'Making NY Work for Hardworking New Yorkers' agenda by creating new industries to help improve the state’s economy, Cilento added.“Legalizing the production, regulation, transportation and distribution of medical marijuana will create thousands of good, long-term jobs and generate much needed revenue for the state,” concluded Cilento.
Passing a comprehensive medical marijuana bill in New York has overwhelming support state wide. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found that a super majority (83%) of New York voters support medical marijuana. The Assembly has also passed the Compassionate Care Act five times with heavy Republican support.