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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Eric Friedman
(212) 382-6754

Kathryn Inman
(212) 382-6656

New York City Bar Association Supports Medical Marijuana Legislation

New York, March 5, 2012 – The New York City Bar Association has issued a report in support of New York State legislation (A.7347/S.2774) that would create a system for the production, distribution and medical use of marijuana for those citizens who would likely benefit from such use.

“This well-crafted legislation is complex, and seeks to establish a multi-tiered process for certification, oversight and reporting,” states the report. “It also provides an opportunity for the accumulation of relevant data for further evaluation of the legislation’s efficacy. This legislation is among the strictest in the United States. In fact, it is more stringent than the New York laws governing highly dangerous and addictive drugs like morphine, Oxycontin (oxycodone), and Valium (diazepam).”

The report, written by the Association’s Committee on Drugs and the Law and its Committee on Health Law, includes the following recommendations for revisions, if feasible: (1) only physicians and nurse practitioners should be granted the privilege to certify patients for use of medical marijuana; (2) qualified practitioners should be authorized to de-certify a patient provided the patient is currently under their care; (3) “registered producers” should be authorized to dispense medical marijuana directly to patients and caregivers in under-served areas, which areas would be designated by the Department of Health (the “Department”); (4) the viability of allowing personal cultivation of medical marijuana should be explored by the Department; and (5) the legislation should impose confidentiality obligations on all “registered organizations” in order to protect the privacy of certified individuals and their caregivers.

The report addresses the “federal conflict,” which is that despite 16 states and the District of Columbia having enacted legislation permitting the medical use of marijuana, federal law categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which does not permit marijuana use for any purpose. “The New York legislation seeks to protect practitioners from federal and New York State prosecution by allowing them to ‘certify’ that patients may receive a therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of medical marijuana. This certification would be documented in the patient’s medical record. The legislation would not, however, permit practitioners to prescribe or dispense it to their patients,” states the report.

In conclusion, the report stresses that the proposed legislation “accomplishes the dual goal of providing relief to suffering patients and protecting the public interest in regulating a controlled substance. Furthermore, the reality of our current legal and enforcement environment permits recreational users of this substance to enjoy its broad availability on the black market, and yet criminalizes its use by the sick and desperate. This disparity in treatment is against public interest and results in the needless denial of likely beneficial treatment and palliative relief for those who legitimately seek it. New York State has an obligation to allow people with severe debilitating and life-threatening conditions to access marijuana legally as a means of alleviating their suffering – and this legislation permits it to do so under both medical and governmental oversight.”

The report may be read here: http://bit.ly/xTUPqi

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association (www.nycbar.org), since its founding in 1870, has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the profession, promoting reform of the law and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.