Pubdate: Tue, 27 May 2014
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2014 Daily News, L.P.
Page: 20


With the state Legislature inching toward legalizing medical
marijuana, absolutely tight controls are crucial. New York must not
make the mistakes California did after its medical marijuana law
passed by referendum in 1996. The law was so loosey-goosey that
virtually anyone could grow, sell, prescribe or ingest the weed for
practically any ailment, real or imagined. Predictably, the state was
overrun by pot shops frequented by recreational smokers who easily
obtained prescriptions from pliant "practitioners" based on most any
health complaint.

Worse, the burgeoning and little-regulated industry gave cover for
criminal gangs to move their contraband from Mexico and elsewhere.

Here, Staten Island state Sen. Diane Savino says her Compassionate
Care Act, narrowly approved by the Health Committee, would impose
strict regulation "from seed to sale."

Her law would license no more than 20 growing operations, which would
operate indoors under 24-hour security and surveillance. Each plant
would be bar-coded, its every move tracked.

Only patients with one of 20 "severe disabling or life-threatening"
conditions (including cancer, Alzheimer's and HIV/AIDS) would be eligible.

They would need permission not just from a medical professional
authorized to prescribe narcotics, but also from the state Health 

What Savino's proposal does not do, worryingly, is cap the number of
retail outlets that sell the stuff. It would also give an advisory
board the power to add diseases and conditions to the original 20.
Finally, it lacks an expiration date - a necessary precaution in such
tricky experiments.

Using his authority under existing law, Gov. Cuomo has floated a plan
that would allow no more than 20 hospitals to dispense pot for medical
purposes. While there are legal obstacles to this approach, he's right
to want a program that's limited, controlled and subject to revocation.

That's what the doctor ordered when it comes to the distribution of an
illegal drug as medicine.
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