New York City Comptroller Releases Report Calling for the Establishment of a Medical Marijuana Program

Press Release August 28, 2013
Media Contact

<p>Contact: gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264 or Julie Netherland: 347-781-5435</p>

NEW YORK – Today, New York City Comptroller John Liu released a report calling on the state legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would create a carefully regulated medical marijuana program in New York.  The report details how more than 100,000 seriously ill New York City residents could benefit from medical marijuana.  The report notes that there is strong scientific evidence that medical marijuana can help alleviate the suffering of those living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and a number of other serious illnesses.  Patients and medical professionals joined Comptroller Liu in calling for the immediate passage of the Compassionate Care Act.

"As a stage 4 metastatic cancer patient I can't be cured, but medical marijuana improves the quality of my life and allows me to be me, rather than at the mercy of my disease. Why can't we have the best possible lives in the time we have left?" asked Beverly McClain, a member of Compassionate Care New York, a group of patients, healthcare providers and organizations who support the Compassionate Care Act.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana programs, and more than 116 million Americans (37% of the total U.S. population) now live in states where access to medical marijuana is legal.  Recently, neurosurgeon and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta made headlines when he came out on support of medical marijuana.  After conducted his own review of the literature, he concluded: “Medical marijuana is not new, and the medical community has been writing about it for a long time. There were in fact hundreds of journal articles, mostly documenting the benefits.”

A number of healthcare organizations and more than 600 doctors in New York have reached the same conclusion and support the Compassionate Care Act. “This is a medication, far safer than many of the medications we already use, that has been proven effective for chronic and neuropathic pain, appetite stimulation, and nausea” said Howard Grossman, MD, a New York City-based physician and Chair of NY Physicians for Compassionate Care. “As doctors, we want to do what’s best for our patients and that includes recommending medical marijuana for some patients.  It’s time for New York to do the sensible thing and pass the Compassionate Care Act without delay.”

The Compassionate Care Act would allow practitioners to talk to their patients about medical marijuana and certify those with serious, debilitating illnesses, so that they may have access to a small amount of medical marijuana to relieve their symptoms.

“I run a support group for people living with MS. Like me, many of them want the option of talking to their doctors and using medical marijuana to help ease pain and spasticity when other treatments fail,” said Tracy Ofri, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987. “It’s time for New York to join the other twenty states who have acted with compassion and allowed patients access to medical marijuana,” she added.

The bill has the support of hundreds of patients and providers and dozens of organizations across the state; a May 2013 Siena poll found that 82% of New Yorkers support medical marijuana, including 81% of both Republicans and Democrats.

“Comptroller Liu’s report is another powerful statement about why New York so urgently needs to create safe and legal access to medical marijuana.  More than 100,000 seriously ill patients in New York City alone stand to benefit,” said Julie Netherland, Deputy State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York Office.  “The Drug Policy Alliance stands with hundreds of patients, healthcare providers, and organizations across New York in calling for the legislature to pass this sensible and humane legislation as soon as possible,” she said.

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

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