HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medical Marijuana Bill Gains Kirwan's Support
Pubdate: Wed, 25 Feb 2004
Source: Times Herald-Record (NY)
Copyright: 2004 Times Herald-Record
Author: John Milgrim, Ottaway News Service
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Albany -- A leading law-and-order Assembly Republican says it's high
time New York made marijuana available for medicinal use.

Assemblyman Tom Kirwan, a former State Police lieutenant who is
considered one of the most conservative members of his house, joined a
growing number of Republicans yesterday in co-sponsoring a Democratic
bill to legalize medicinal marijuana.

The bill, first introduced in 1997, would allow doctors to prescribe
pot for patients suffering life-threatening, degenerative or disabling
diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS.

"If that's going to ease their pain, how can you be against it?" said
Kirwan, R-C-Newburgh.

A litany of well-regarded medical associations and publications say
marijuana in its natural form is more effective in treating a variety
of symptoms than the synthetic pill version prescribed since 1986.

For the state Conservative Party, however, the bill is just the first
step toward legalizing pot altogether.

"We really believe there's enough medication on the market that in
fact will do everything humanly possible to help people who are cancer
victims," said party Chairman Mike Long.

The party has rated Kirwan as the most conservative member of the
Assembly several times, but Long said his position on the bill could
affect his rating.

"We're not a single-issue party. I'm not giving him a pass on this,
but he's got a very good conservative record," Long said.

Kirwan said his stance should not be conceived as condoning legalizing

"I'm not for legalizing morphine, either, but I certainly don't want
to take it away from people in pain," he said.

The bill has never made it to the Assembly floor for a

As of yesterday, no Republicans in the Republican-led Senate had
sponsored the bill in that house. A Senate spokesman said the Senate
leadership is reviewing the bill.
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