After years of talk and proposals, this might be the year medical marijuana comes to New York.
Since 1997, Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottried has been pushing for medical marijuana. He would get it on a bill, but it would never pass. However, the state’s legislature is more open to the idea due to the poor economy.
New York, like many states, is in a financial crisis. Governor David Patterson is constantly telling New Yorkers that the state may run out of money. He went as far as to hold residents’ tax refunds due to the lack of funds. The current budget proposal includes medical marijuana as a way to bring more income to the state. The state legislature sees dollar signs with not only the licenses for the dispensaries and producers ($15 million), but a tax on the medical marijuana itself. In New York State, prescriptions are not subject to tax, yet medical marijuana would be. Multiple reports state that medical marijuana would bring in $500 million a year. It would not fix the state’s budget problems, but it might be too much for the law makers to reject.
Although the details of the bill can change, it seems that New York will have strict rules when it comes to patients and producers of medical marijuana. Practitioners will only be able to prescribe it to patients with “serious medical conditions.” Patients that get the prescriptions can have no more than 2.5 ounces at any time. They cannot grow it either. Only producers with a licence will be allowed to grow the herb. Despite the restrictions, advocates still believe thousands of New York patients would benefit from medical marijuana. These advocates are not alone. A recent Quinnipiac Poll found 71% of New York State voters think medical marijuana is a “good idea.”
New York has its share of people opposed to making medical marijuana legal. Some Republican State Senators are not going to vote for it. The New York State Conservative Party issued a statement: “Calling marijuana ‘medicine’ in the belief that it will produce revenue is an ill-conceived idea that will ultimately harm all New Yorkers.” Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, also came out against legalizing marijuana. “It may very well lead to greater use of stronger drugs.”
While the state legislature decides whether to make medical marijuana an option for New Yorkers, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie weighs in on the fight. In a recent episode titled Apple Bong, Jackie (played by Edie Falco) is assisting a doctor with a stage three lymphoma patient. The patient is vomiting due to the chemotherapy. Jackie begins to go over all the usual medications (Zofran, Eloxy, etc.) with the patient. However, that patient has either tried all of them and stopped them due to the side effects or cannot take them due to an underlying condition. None of them gave him any relief. The patient even asks Jackie “is it worth it.” Jackie then asks if the patient tried pot to the dismay of the straight-laced doctor. The doctor wants the patient to try another (legal) prescription that may work. He then reprimands Jackie for suggesting an illegal drug when there are “perfectly viable medications.” Jackie tells him that if the patient lived in another state the patient would be able to “get a prescription for medical marijuana, so he could at least try it.” The doctor’s retort: “He does not live in another state. He lives in New York.”
Jackie eventually gets the patient to try marijuana via an apple bong. The weak patient immediately perks up and says “I’m actually hungry.” She later brings the patient home-made cookies with marijuana in them, along with the recipe she used and the dealer’s phone number. This episode is a must watch for anybody still on the fence regarding medical marijuana.
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