New York First: Patients and Caregivers Build & Drive Medical Marijuana Float at Marcellus Olde Home Days Parade to Urge Action on Compassionate Care Act

Press Release June 7, 2014
Media Contact

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Tony Newman 646-335-5384</div>
gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264</div>

Marcellus, NY — Today, dozens of parents of children with epilepsy and patients living with multiple sclerosis and other serious, debilitating medical conditions paraded down Main Street in Marcellus with a float to draw attention to the Compassionate Care Act (S.4406-C/Savino and A.6357-B). The group also hosted a booth at the festival following the parade to educate parade goers about how the bill could help alleviate the suffering of New Yorkers with serious illnesses or debilitating conditions. The bill would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs, allowing seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

Local Marcellus resident, Kathy Annable, helped organized the float because her daughter Kaylie, who suffers from severe seizures, could benefit from medical marijuana. “I am fighting for my daughter, Kaylie, who has multiple seizures every day that could take her life,” Annable said. “But I am also fighting for all the seriously ill patients in New York who could potentially benefit from medical marijuana. What better way to get the word out than a float down Main Street during our Olde Home Days Parade?”

Patients from MS Resources of Central New York, a local group that has advocated for the bill on behalf of their clients with multiple sclerosis, also attend ended.

“MS Resources of Central New York is thrilled to join in the Olde Home Days Parade to bring attention to the urgent need for a comprehensive medical marijuana bill in New York,” said Annette Simiele, Associate Director of the agency, which serves multiple sclerosis patients in Central New York. “We know medical marijuana can help relieve the pain and spasticity of those living with MS, not to mention patients with other serious illnesses, like cancer, epilepsy, and HIV/AIDS.  New Yorkers have been patient in awaiting this legislation, and we join as one voice to get the Compassionate Care Act passed and end the needless suffering of so many.”

Earlier this month, the New York State Assembly passed the bill for the fifth time with broad bipartisan support.  The bill has also passed through the Senate Health Committee and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance Committee, which chaired by Senator John DeFrancisco, who represents Marcellus and other parts of Central New York. If the Finance Committee does not vote on the bill before the session ends on June 19th, patients and caregivers will be forced to wait another year for relief.

“Wemarched down Main Street today because we need the Senate to act,” said Susan Rusinko from Auburn New York. “We’ve been meeting with Senator DeFrancisco about this issue for two years and hope he will listen to his constituents and the 83% of New York voters who support medical marijuana. Hopefully, he saw that support today at the parade and will stand on the side of compassion and bring the Compassionate Care Act to a vote in the Finance Committee.”

Momentum for the Compassionate Care Act continues to build. A poll from Quinnipiac University released last week found that a super majority (83%) of New York voters support medical marijuana. The bill has strong bipartisan support in the Senate, with three Republican co-sponsors (Senators Robach, Grisanti, Maziarz) and three additional Republicans — Senator John Bonacic,  (R-Middletown), Senator Tim O’Mara (R, C – Big Flats, Elmira), and Senator Larkin — have all expressed their support.

“My family and I travelled from Rochester today to be part of the Olde Home Days Parade because we’ll do whatever it takes to get the New York State Senate to do the right thing and pass the Compassionate Care Act,” said Christine Emerson of Rochester, whose daughter, Julia, suffers from a severe seizure disorder. “Time is running out for our family and for thousands of other New Yorkers who suffer from epilepsy, cancer, MS, HIV, and other serious illnesses.  I implore the Senate to pass this bill before it’s too late – before more people suffer or die needlessly.”


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