Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jan 2013
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2013 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Rick Karlin


Supporters of Medical Marijuana Press Case for Legalization of

ALBANY - Advocates have pushed for legalizing medical marijuana in New
York for more than a decade, and they returned Friday offering their
latest plan.

This year, they hope that the new state Senate leadership coalition
may overcome what has traditionally been opposition by Republicans to

Supporters note Staten Island Democrat Diane Savino is a member of the
Independent Democratic Conference, which has joined forces with
Republicans to control the state Senate.

Savino in past years has carried a bill to legalize medical marijuana.
The Assembly has passed such a measure but it hasn't passed the
Senate, at least in recent years.

Additionally, members of the state Alliance for Medical Marijuana say
they have heard from Senate Republicans who sound more amenable to
adding New York to the list of more than a dozen other states that
allow cannabis to be used for health reasons.

"There is definitely more support in the Republican conference than
there has ever been," said Evan Nison of the alliance.

Supporters brought some medical marijuana users with them to Albany to
bolster their argument.

"They don't know what to do with me," said Burt Aldrich, of Stone
Ridge, Ulster County. Paralyzed when he broke his neck jumping into a
pool years ago, Aldrich saids marijuana is the best way he's found to
ease his pain, spasms and muscle tightness. Recently, police found his
marijuana in his home while answering a break-in report.

He was charged but the case still hasn't been resolved.

"I'm tired of feeling like a criminal," added Richard Williams of
Richmondville, who uses medical marijuana to relieve symptoms caused
by HIV/AIDS and its medications.

The alliance's Adam Scavone said they want a medical marijuana bill
this year to have the substance covered under the new I-Stop law
designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse.

That would help reassure critics that the marijuana would be used for
legitimate medical reasons, rather than simply to get high.

"We're talking about medical use only, here," said Lisa
Roche-Schroeder a nurse from Little Falls who supports legalized
medical marijuana.

Savino cited more GOP support. More works is ahead.

Supporters still need to convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo that legalizing
medical marijuana is a good idea, she said. It's not that the governor
opposes it, but the issue hasn't been on his radar screen, Savino
said. "He hasn't really had a chance to engage in this discussion,"
she said. 
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