Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Author: Elizabeth Benjamin, James M. Odato and Alan Wechsler
Published: Monday, November 24, 2003
Copyright: 2003 Capital Newspapers
Contact: [email protected]
Efforts to legalize marijuana for medical use in New York continue to inch forward, with the latest endorsement coming from the state AIDS Advisory Council. Ironically, most of the council's members were appointed by Gov. George Pataki, who doesn't support allowing seriously ill people to smoke pot.
After an hour of debate at a meeting in New York City earlier this month, the council voted 8-2 with one abstention to support a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, that would allow patients to use marijuana if prescribed by a doctor.
The unpaid, 17-member council advises the state AIDS Institute. The governor appoints nine members, the majority leaders of the Assembly and Senate each name three, and each minority leader picks one.
"In my mind this is a no-brainer," said Jeffrey Reynolds, a council member appointed by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, and vice president for public affairs at the Long Island Association for AIDS Care.
"People with late-stage HIV infection need this," Reynolds said. "And in many cases, they're (smoking) anyway, in nonregulated and unsafe ways."
Opponents of the measure argued that science has yet to prove marijuana eases HIV and AIDS-related symptoms. Counters Reynolds: "AIDS treatment has always been about trying new things. Anything we can do to make people more comfortable, we should be doing."
Gottfried's bill, which lacks a Senate sponsor, is also backed by the New York State Association of County Health Officials and The Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State. The Assembly Health Committee voted out the bill for the first time since it was introduced in 1997, but the full chamber has yet to vote.
Some relief is in store for Department of Environmental Conservation employees in the form of on-the-job massages.
In a pilot program to last until January, the agency is offering a massage for staff, once a month, for a fee of $1 per minute.
Corporate Wellness Solutions, an Averill Park firm, will give the rubdowns at DEC's headquarters on Broadway in Albany. There is a 10-minute minimum, according to a recent e-mail to employees.
Powers, Crane & Co. has nabbed Paul W. Zuber, 37, an attorney in the Senate majority counsel's office. Zuber, 37, officially starts as director of legislative affairs Dec. 1.
Powers Crane also has formed a security division, Securities Technology International. It is headed by John Curry, an ex-State Police tech sergeant in charge of the bomb disposal unit.
Lobbyist Patricia Lynch canceled her $50,000 contract with Nassau County last Tuesday, the day after Capitol Confidential reported Democratic Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi's declaration that he will use his political muscle to replace several Republican and Democratic legislators.
Lynch, a former aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, confirmed she broke off her business relationship, but wouldn't reveal why. Some lawmakers were told she wanted to distance herself from Suozzi.
Contributors: Capitol bureau reporters Elizabeth Benjamin and James M. Odato, and Staff Writer Alan
NY Panel OKs Medical Marijuana Bill
State Passed the Law, but Never Used It