Two NY Republican State Senators Announce Support for Compassionate Care Act

Press Release February 18, 2014
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<p>Contact:&nbsp; gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264 or Tony Papa 646-420-7290</p>

NEW YORK: Yesterday, State Senator George Maziarz (R – Newfane) became the second Republican senator in two days to declare support for the Compassionate Care Act, along with State Senator Mark Grisanti (R, IP – Buffalo). The Republicans were joined by their Western Region colleague Senator Tim Kennedy (D, IP, WF –  Buffalo), who also announced his support for the Compassionate Care Act. The growing support for the comprehensive medical marijuana bill was reported by Michael Wooten of WGRZ News in Buffalo as part of his in-depth series on the potential impact of medical marijuana on patients and families in New York’s Western Region.

The announcements come the same week as a new Quinnipiac poll found that 88% of New Yorkers –  including a super-majority of both Democrats and Republicans – support allowing the use of medical marijuana if a doctor recommends it.  The Compassionate Care Act would alleviate the suffering of seriously ill New Yorkers by allowing them access to a small amount of medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.  Patients and family members across New York were thrilled by the announcements.

“As a constituent of Senator Grisanti and mother to Anna, who suffers from severe seizure disorders that could potentially be treated with medical marijuana, I am thrilled to see that my senator is truly responsive to the needs of his constituency, said Wendy Conte of Orchard Park, NY. “I'm now looking to the Senate leadership to similarly demonstrate their commitment to the needs of New Yorkers in their jurisdiction by bringing the Compassionate Care Act to a vote on the senate without delay.”

“I am so very grateful to Senators Kennedy, Grisanti, and Maziarz for their leadership in supporting the Compassionate Care Act,” says Nancy Rivera, a four-time cancer survivor from Troy, NY. “Senate Majority Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein should make every effort to pass the Compassionate Care Act immediately. New Yorkers like me deserve a chance at relief.”

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.

“I’m living with stage 4 breast cancer, and medical marijuana could provide me with needed relief from the pain and nausea of my treatments,” said Beverly McClain of New York City. “I’m delighted that some of our elected leaders like Senators Kennedy, Maziarz and Grisanti have come out in support of the Compassionate Care Act. I and thousands of others can’t wait any longer for the Senate to act.  They must pass the bill now.”

Behind closed doors, numerous Senators have expressed their strong support for the Compassionate Care Act but have refused to publicly announce this support. Senator Grisanti and Senator Maziarz are the first senate Republicans to publicly announce their support for the Compassionate Care Act.   

“Anyone caring for a loved one who's suffering could be alleviated with medical marijuana knows that the time for the Compassionate Care Act is now,” said Geri Barish of Long Island. “We cannot wait any longer to provide access to this important tool in the battle against cancer and a host of other illnesses. Senators Grisanti and Maziarz have demonstrated courageous leadership on this issue. We are now looking to the co-leaders of the senate, Senators Klein and Skelos to bring the Compassionate Care Act to the floor of the senate.”

There is a strong body of research about medical marijuana’s benefits for treating the symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS, cancer chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis,  epilepsy, and other debilitating conditions.

Dawn Carney of Mount Vernon, who is living with HIV, said: “Senators Grisanti and Senator Maziarz have shown today that they are willing to take action on behalf of thousands of New Yorkers like me who struggle to survive with serious illness. We are now looking to Senators Klein and Skelos to act as our champions in bringing the Compassionate Care Act to a vote in the senate so that New Yorkers will not continue having to wait on vital access to marijuana as a medicine.”
Across the country, twenty states – including all of New England — and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws.

“The public support of Senators Grisanti, Maziarz, and Kennedy helps restore my faith that our leaders in Albany have compassion for the thousands of New Yorkers, like my daughter, Morgan, who suffer serious, life-threatening illnesses that could be alleviated by medical marijuana,” said Kate Hintz of North Salem, NY, whose daughter Morgan has a rare and devastating seizure disorder. “I thank them for their leadership and hope that Senate Co-Presidents Skelos and Klein will finally let the bill come to the floor for a vote. Every day the senate fails to act puts my daughter’s life at risk.  We shouldn’t have to wait any longer for them to do the sensible and humane thing and pass the Compassionate Care Act.”

“With the announcement of support for the Compassionate Care Act from Senators Grisanti, Kennedy, and Maziarz, I am seeing the light for a day when seriously New Yorkers, like me, are no longer denied access to medical marijuana that could greatly improve their quality of life.,” said Susan Rusinko of Auburn, NY, who is living with multiple sclerosis. “I hope that Senator Klein and Senator Skelos will continue this act of courageous leadership and see the compassionate care act through to a vote on the senate floor.”

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.

“I’m thrilled that Senators Grisanti, Kennedy and Maziarz have shown such leadership and publicly support the Compassionate Care Act,” said Missy Miller of Atlantic Beach, NY, whose son Oliver suffers from life-threatening seizures. I urge Senate Co-presidents Klein and Skelos to allow the bill, which would create one of the country’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs, to come to the floor for a vote. Oliver is having dangerous seizures every single day and is losing skills from these seizures. He simply doesn't have another year to wait. We must pass the Compassionate Care Act now.”

“We long known many senators – both Democrat and Republican – support the Compassionate Care Act but some have been reluctant to express this support publicly,” said gabriel sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Thank you, Senator Grisanti, Senator Maziarz, for supporting compassion for patients and families in New York. There are now enough votes to pass the Compassionate Care Act in the Senate. We call upon the Senate Majority Co-Leaders, Senator Skelos and Senator Klein, to allow a vote on this bill. The lives and well-being of so many New Yorkers depends on it.”

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

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