HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html GOP 'Joint' Resolution
Pubdate: Sun, 08 May 2005
Source: New York Post (NY)
Copyright: 2005 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
Author: Kenneth Lovett
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


ALBANY -- The push to legalize marijuana in New York for medicinal use
has for the first time generated a majority-sponsored bill in the
Republican-controlled state Senate -- a big boost to the chances
prescription pot will be available in the state.

Sen. Vincent Leibell (R-Dutchess County) quietly introduced a bill
last month that would let doctors prescribe marijuana to patients with
life-threatening, degenerative or permanently disabling conditions.

Cannabis could only be used if a doctor feels that other drugs and
treatments would not be as effective.

"Thousands of New Yorkers have serious medical conditions that can be
improved by medically approved use of cannabis," Leibell's bill says.
"The law should not stand in the way between them and life- and
health-sustaining treatment under a physician's supervision."

Many otherwise illegal controlled substances, like steroids and
morphine, are permitted for legitimate medical uses, Leibell said.

"I realize this will be controversial, but I think it's the right
thing to do," the lawmaker told The Post. "It's not decriminalization.
It's a narrow part of the population under closely controlled medical

While his bill differs slightly from one in the Democratic-controlled
Assembly, it's close enough that he and Assembly Health Committee
Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) believe a compromise is near.

Leibell, Gottfried and TV talk-show host Montel Williams will hold a
bipartisan joint press conference on the issue Tuesday.

Williams, who is prescribed medical marijuana by a California doctor
to help deal with his multiple sclerosis, last year made an emotional
plea during private meetings with Gov. Pataki and Senate Majority
Leader Joseph Bruno to follow the 10 states that have legalized pot
for medical purposes.

Following a bout with prostate cancer, Bruno said last year he was
warming to the idea.

Pataki has been less inclined to support the concept. Health
Department spokesman William Van Slyke said medical experts believe
there are enough legal drugs that provide the same benefits as marijuana.

"We remain skeptical of the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but
will continue to monitor the situation," Van Slyke said.

In the Assembly, legislation on the issue was voted out of the Health
Committee last year but never made it to the floor for a full vote.

"I think if the Senate is prepared to pass the bill, the Assembly will
as well," Gottfried said.

The state Conservative Party opposes the legalization of medical

"It's just the wrong thing to do," said Conservative Party Chairman
Michael Long. 
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