Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Author: Frank Lombardi, Daily News City Hall Bureau
Published: June 28, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Daily News, L.P.
Contact: [email protected]
The City Council is set to approve a resolution today asking the state Legislature to legalize medical marijuana use. Supporters say controlled dispensing of pot can provide "therapeutic relief for many New Yorkers who are suffering from grave, chronic conditions and life-threatening illnesses."
The resolution signals the first time the liberal-leaning Council has come out in favor of medical pot, although some advocates had hoped the 51-member body would have joined their cause long ago.
The resolution's main sponsor, Councilman Philip Reed (D-Manhattan), said the Council had been in danger of becoming irrelevant in the fight because even the more conservative lawmakers in Albany are close to enacting enabling bills.
"Fifteen other states are already on board, and 80% of the public supports this," Reed said last week after his resolution was approved by the Council's Health Committee and set the stage for today's vote by the full Council.
Reed noted that his resolution has the support of several conservative members.
"This is not, you know, just the goofy left passing the resolution," he said.
Late or not, the Council's support will be "helpful" in moving the issue forward in Albany, said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), who has championed the issue for several years.
Before the Legislature recessed last week, efforts were progressing to get the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Republican-dominated Senate to agree on a common bill, he said.
Legalization of medical marijuana "is very actively under consideration by the Republicans," added Gottfried, who is optimistic that a two-chamber bill can still pass this year after the Legislature reconvenes in early August.
Mark Hansen, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer), confirmed that the Senate leader is "taking a close look at it."
Reed said legalization efforts were boosted by the endorsement two weeks ago by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. The veteran district attorney credited his support of medical marijuana to TV talk-show host Montel Williams, who uses marijuana legally dispensed in California to ease the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis.
Reed noted that it's "unfortunate" that Mayor Bloomberg has opted not to lend his support. The mayor recently urged legislators "to think long and hard before they change the current laws" because "drugs are a very big problem in this city."
Resolutions do not require mayoral action.
Related Articles & Web Sites:
Montel Williams Show
NY for Compassionate Care
Medicinal Cannabis Research Links
High Hopes for Pot
Montel Williams Pushes Pot -- for Medical Relief