Fourth Republican State Senator, Thomas O’Mara, Announces His Support for Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill – the Compassionate Care Act

Press Release March 3, 2014
Media Contact

<p>Contact:&nbsp; Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264</p>

NEW YORK: Yesterday, Senator Tom O’Mara (R, C – Big Flats, Elmira) stated his support for the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would allow New Yorkers with serious and debilitating conditions to access to medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider. Sen. O’Mara announced his support during a meeting with parents, cancer patients, people living with HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis, and staff from the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester and the Capitol Region Area Action Against Breast Cancer, and was met with cheers. Sen. O’Mara is the fourth Senate Republican to announce his support for the Compassionate Care Act. Last month, three Western Region Republicans — Senator George Maziarz, Senator Mark Grisanti, and Senator Joseph Robach  – declared their support for the bill and called for a vote.

“I am thrilled that Senator O’Mara supports the Compassionate Care Act,” said Amy Rising of Ithaca, an Air Force veteran and constituent of Sen. O’Mara. “Countless service men and women who have returned home with wounds of war, such as post-traumatic stress, limb loss, and traumatic brain injuries, can benefit from this legislation. I urge Co-Presidents Klein and Skelos to show leadership and stand on the side of compassion and bring the bill to the floor for a vote immediately.”

The Compassionate Care Act has passed the Assembly four times, and Governor Cuomo’s administration has said the governor would sign it, but the legislation has long been stuck in the Senate. In recent weeks, support for the legislation has been growing as more and more Republicans announce their support and more and more organizations endorse the measure.

“The New York State Breast Cancer Network applauds Senator O’Mara’s decision to publicly support the Compassionate Care Act,” said Andi Gladstone of Danby, New York a cancer survivor and Executive Director of New York State Breast Cancer Network. “By listening to the breast cancer community and others, Senator O’Mara has separated fact from myth, and he has brought us one step closer to passage of the Compassionate Care Act which will allow safe and legal relief to New Yorkers living each day with difficult illnesses and painful treatments.”

The bill has passed the Assembly four times, but despite growing bipartisan support in the Senate, the bill has never been brought up for a vote in that House.

“I want the leadership in Albany to know that we won’t stop pressing them to pass the Compassionate Care Act until they do the right thing and allow the bill to come to the senate floor for a vote,” said Missy Miller of Atlantic Beach, whose son Oliver suffers from life-threatening seizures. “We elected these people to represent us, and with 88% of New York voters supporting medical marijuana, I can’t understand why they continue to deny seriously ill patients, like my son, access to a medication that could help.”

Support for medical marijuana spans the political divide. Recent national polls show that a majority of Americans – right, left, and center and in every region of the country — support allowing patients to access marijuana under medical supervision. In New York, a recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 88% of New York voters support medical marijuana, including over 80% of Republicans and Democrats.

“I was at the meeting with patients and Sen. O’Mara, and I thank him for standing with the sick and suffering in New York,” said gabriel sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Momentum is definitely building for this comprehensive bill. We know that when a vote is taken, the Compassionate Care Act will pass with strong bipartisan support. It’s time for Senate Co-Presidents Klein and Skelos to let the bill come to the floor for a vote and end the needless suffering of the seriously ill. It’s time for New York to show compassion.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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