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New York City Bar Association Supports Medical Marijuana Legislation in New York State


Eric Friedman
(212) 382-6754

Kathryn Inman
(212) 382-6656

New York City Bar Association Supports Medical Marijuana Legislation in New York State

New York, December 18, 2013 – Today the New York City Bar Association presented testimony to the New York State Assembly’s Standing Committee on Health in support of legislation that would authorize and regulate the sale of medical marijuana in New York State.

Today’s testimony at the Nassau County Legislative Chambers, by Betsy Lambert, of the City Bar’s Health Law Committee, and Charles Sanford Smith, of its Drugs and the Law Committee, was based on the City Bar’s most recent report on medical marijuana. The report, which was developed with the assistance of the City Bar’s Civil Rights, Land Use and Planning, and Family Court and Family Law Committees, was submitted with the testimony.

In her submitted testimony, Lambert said, “I can sum up the findings of our report simply and as follows:  patients who would benefit from and are approved to use medical marijuana should be able to easily gain access to it; specifically, they should be able to receive approved amounts of a quality of medical marijuana that meets standards for growth and sale under the law – a law which we hope will become a reality in New York this year.”

Smith said that medical marijuana “is not a hoax or a cover for legalization. With 21 states and the District of Columbia providing safe access to medical marijuana, over half of the United States’ population lives in a state where they have access to medical cannabis. It is time for New York to participate in this process.” He added that the proposed legislation “is among the strictest in the country and accomplishes the dual goal of providing relief to suffering patients and protecting the public interest in regulating a controlled substance.” Speaking as a defense attorney, he said, “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 the public interest, is bad policy and results in the needless denial of likely beneficial treatment and palliative relief for those who legitimately seek it.”

Both Lambert and Smith cautioned against passing a bill that would unnecessarily and unduly restrict patients’ access to medical marijuana, and recommended that the Health Committee reconsider amendments that had been introduced at the end of last session.

The City Bar first expressed support for a bill permitting the sale of medical marijuana in New York 16 years ago.

Today’s submitted testimony, including the City Bar’s most recent report on medical marijuana, can be read here:

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association, since its founding in 1870, has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the legal profession, promoting reform of the law and access to justice, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association, through its 24,000 members, 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.