Republican Support for Medical Marijuana Grows as GOP Gathers for Convention in Westchester

Press Release May 14, 2014
Media Contact

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

New York : As Republicans gather in Westchester this week to nominate their statewide ticket, they should congratulate Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy for supporting the Compassionate Care Act. Chairman. Langworthy’s leadership on medical marijuana should make it easier for other Party leaders to do the right thing, for the right reasons.  Patients, healthcare providers and advocates with the statewide Compassionate Care NY coalition praised Langworthy and called on more Republican leaders and candidates take their cue from the Erie County leader.

“Compassion and access to medicine are bipartisan issues,” said Buc Williams of Lockport whose son Tommy suffers from a severe seizure disorder. “I’m pleased to see the growing bipartisan support for the Compassionate Care Act, which would create one of the country’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs. I urge the NY Senate to pass this bill so thousands of seriously ill New Yorkers, including Tommy, have another option for relief.”

Langworthy attended the GOP Convention in Westchester today, where the NYGOP is discussing issues they feel are important to all New Yorkers. With the recent Quinnipiac poll showing that 88 percent of New York voters – including a super-majority of Republicans — support medical marijuana, one of the GOP priorities should be securing relief for patients in New York. With overwhelming support in their districts and common-sense legislation – the Compassionate Care Act — on their desks, there are no more viable reasons for delay in Albany.

“As someone living with MS who could benefit from medical marijuana, I am pleased see growing bipartisan support,” said Susan Rusinko of Auburn, New York. “Seriously ill New Yorkers have suffered long enough. It’s time for the New York senate to stand with patients and the 88% of New Yorkers who support medical marijuana and pass this bill now.”

Langworthy is among the most prominent GOP officials to come out in support of the Compassionate Care Act. Over the last few months, Republican support for the bill has continued to grow, with four Republican State Senators publicly supporting the Compassionate Care Act, including Senator George Maziarz (R – Newfane), Senator Mark Grisanti (R, IP – Buffalo), Senator Joe Robach (R, C, IP – Rochester) and Senator Tim O’Mara (R, C – Big Flats, Elmira). Last week, Sen. Robach took his support one step further by signing on as the first Republican a co-sponsor of Compassionate Care Act.

“As a Buffalo Resident and the parent of child with a severe seizure disorder. I would like to thank Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy and Senator Joe Robach for their leadership and support of The Compassionate Act. This bill will help to ease the suffering of thousands of New Yorkers who are currently suffering will illness. I urge the NYS legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act.”

“We are proud of our Western New York GOP Senate members, Mark Grisanti (60th), George Maziarz (62nd), Tom O'Mara (58th) and, especially Joe Robach (56th) the first Republican Co sponsor of S4406, for demonstrating true leadership in Albany,” said Holly Anderson, Executive Director of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. “As leaders, we hope they will use whatever influence they've earned to bring the Compassionate Care Act all the way to the finish line this session. Thousands of cancer patients, across the political spectrum, continue to suffer because they lack safe access to this important medicinal.  Please allow patients more options for critical illnesses.  Please put politics aside and bring this bill to a vote soon.”

Langworthy’s recent op-ed in the Albany Times Union in support of the Compassionate Care Act drew attention from both Republicans and Democrats. As he told Buffalo’s WGRZ (5/8/2014), "There are people suffering and this could potentially be a better solution for pain management and help them with various diseases. Instead of highly addictive pain killers that can really cause more problems."

“It’s so refreshing to see this kind of leadership from Chairman Nick Langworthy and Sen. Joe Robach,” said Robert Tolbert, a lifetime New Yorker living with HIV for 20 years. “Mr. Langworthy’s endorsement shows that supporting patients is not just good policy – it’s the right thing to do. The Compassionate Care Act is about compassion, people, and common sense, and the Senate should finally pass this bill.”

Twenty-one states and the District Columbia have passed laws creating legal access to medical marijuana for patients with serious and debilitating conditions. Advocates, many of whom have already waited years for relief,  have vowed to return to Albany every week until the bill is passed.

“Thank you, Mr. Langworthy, for pushing the Compassionate Care Act forward,” said gabriel sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Compassionate Care Act was first introduced in Albany nearly 20 years ago – New Yorkers have waited long enough for relief. Political leaders across the state and New York voters know that patients and their families deserve compassion. It’s time to pass the Compassionate Care Act.”


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

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