Legislative push for medical marijuana in New York State | News
ALBANY - Wanda Hernandez has been living with HIV/AIDS for over a decade.
She says she's tired of feeling like a criminal for using marijuana to battle the effects of her illness.
"Because of my HIV medication, I have constant battles of nausea and I have trouble holding down the food that I need to maintain myself and stay healthy but when I can use marijuana, it helps me settle my stomach and I feel comfortable," Hernandez said at a news conference in the Legislative Office Building.
Committee chairs in both the Assembly and the State Senate are pushing for a law that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana.
The patient would be required to register with the Department of Health and under most circumstances purchase the pot from a hospital or pharmacy.
"There would be a statutory restriction that a physician could only certify use of marijuana for a patient with a serious debilitating or life threatening condition," explained Assembly Health Committee chair Richard Gottfried (D - Manhattan).
17 states currently allow medical marijuana.
Some, like California, have been criticized for a casual dispensing system.
The New York sponsors argue their proposal is much tighter.
Nurse Eileen Knieczny sees cancer patients daily.
"There is not one day that I work that I do not meet someone that could benefit from the use of medical cannabis," Knieczny said.
A Siena poll found New Yorkers favor the use of medical marijuana 57% to 33% opposed.
Medical marijuana use is not consistent with federal drug laws. However, Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated those involved will not be prosecuted when use is consistent with state regulations.