For my research paper I have chosen a topic, represented by Assembly Bill 9016, that has long been a hot button issue both in the State of New York as well as throughout the nation. The legalization of medical marijuana originated on the West Coast in California but has since seen the inside of legislative chambers in more than half of the states in the Union. Currently 14 states have legalized the use, possession, sale and growth of medical cannabis including some of our Northeastern neighbors in New Jersey, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island.
Assembly Bill 9016, “[a]n act to amend the public health law and the general business law, in relation to medical use of marihuana,” has been in and out of committees, even voted on in the Assembly Chambers, for over ten years. Over the years its sponsor, Richard Gottfried, has amended the bill on numerous occasions. It has gone from a two and a half page proposal in 1997 to an over ten page bill in 2010. It is clear from this simple observation that there has been much controversy surrounding the legislation.
The major debates within government are not over the value of the use of cannabis as medicine but over its applications, its acceptable quantities, and its regulatory institution. Some people believe it should only be prescribed to terminally ill patients; others believe that medical marijuana should be used only for “debilitating medical conditions” (an admittedly vague term, open for interpretation); yet there are still others that find medical marijuana should be prescribed to anyone that may need it for ailments ranging from arthritis to anxiety disorders to depression.
Then there is the debate over quantity. Most state laws provide for the growth of several mature plants by qualified patients. In fact California allows patients to grow up to twelve plants. Some feel that growing should be left to the “manufacturers” or pharmaceutical companies, coined “caregivers”. Others believe that all growth and distribution should be left to the government, not only to increase regulation but also to increase revenue.
This legislation is particularly important to New York considering its current fiscal climate. Passing such a law has the potential to raise a large amount of revenue for the state, thus easing our budget burden. In addition, it has been in committee for so long that some people are beginning to believe that New York does not agree that it has a medical application, something our federal government even admits (though it has not been changed from a schedule I to a schedule II drug). In fact the federal government prescribes marijuana directly to four patients. Also, a previous version of the bill has passed the Assembly, yet...