Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jun 2010
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2010 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Craig M. Burridge


The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York has  become the
latest professional health organization to  endorse the medical
marijuana bill under consideration  in Albany.

As medical professionals who believe in palliative  care, responsible
oversight, and -- most important --  relieving the suffering of ill
patients whenever  possible, we strongly support this legislation. It
will  establish a controlled and orderly system, based on  established
medical practice, for providing seriously  ill patients with access to
a medicine that has been  demonstrated to relieve intractable pain and

Since 1996, 14 other states and Washington, D.C., have  passed laws to
allow doctors to recommend marijuana to  qualified patients suffering
from ailments such as  AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis. New York's
bill is  designed to include the best practices from those  states,
while at the same time learning from their  mistakes.

Compared to other state laws, New York's bill would  create a much
stricter patient eligibility criteria,  and more tightly regulate
where the drug can be  purchased.

A primary reason why pharmacists support this bill is  the active
oversight role it grants to the Department  of Health. Patients would
not be able to grow their own  medicine, but rather gain access
through a network of  licensed pharmacies and nonprofit dispensaries
approved  and regulated by the Department of Health.

The bill's inclusion of pharmacists -- New York would  become the only
state to do so -- would for the first  time place medical marijuana in
the mainstream medical  system. Pharmacists are ideally suited to
dispense  medical marijuana because they have secure facilities  and
are experienced in the handling of dangerous  narcotics. And because
pharmacists are aware of all the  drugs their patients are taking,
they can guard against  potentially dangerous drug interactions that
could  easily occur in other delivery systems.

New York's proposed bill would create the most  responsible,
professionally managed, and tightly  regulated medical marijuana
delivery system in the  nation.

But perhaps the most compelling reason why New York  should enact this
bill is the thousands of New Yorkers  living with severe and
debilitating illnesses that  could benefit from it.

A wealth of peer-reviewed research has confirmed  marijuana's efficacy
in helping treat a range of  ailments. For many patients, existing
therapies do not  work, and medical marijuana could be their best hope
of  effective relief. Denying such patients this relief --  when we
know how to safely and effectively deliver it  to them -- would be

Gov. David Paterson and the Legislature have considered  this bill for
years. The Assembly has already passed it  twice. It takes a
responsible approach to medical  marijuana -- one that will set a new
standard for the  rest of the country.

New York's medical marijuana bill should be enacted  without

Craig M. Burridge is executive director of The  Pharmacists Society
of the State of New York.
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