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Faith Leaders Call On NY Legislature To Pass Medical Marijuana Bill


New York marijuanaYesterday, dozens of patients, caregivers and healthcare providers travelled from all corners of New York – including Buffalo, Long Island, Syracuse, Hudson Valley, and New York City – to call on the Senate to pass the comprehensive medical marijuana proposal known as Compassionate Care Act. The Compassionate Care Act would allow seriously ill New Yorkers access to medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider. The bill has passed the Assembly four times, was included in the Assembly’s budget proposal, and has strong bi-partisan support in the Senate. But senate leaders have refused to let the bill come up for a vote.

Patients and caregivers were joined by faith leaders who called on senate to stop delaying to show the sick suffering some compassion and mercy.

“As a Bishop and spiritual caregiver in New York City, I have met and spoken with hundreds of New Yorkers who are suffering with chronic illnesses.  It is my responsibility to them, and all New Yorkers to advocate for the passage of the Compassionate Care Act,” said Bishop Dr. Michael Clark, Pastor at Redeemers Tabernacle and President of the NYPD 83rd Precinct Clergy Council. “The needless suffering of these patients and families from illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, seizure disorders, and other conditions, goes against my beliefs. I join with the 88% percent of New Yorkers who believe medical marijuana should be an option for patients.  The legislators in Albany should do what is right and show compassion to our sick.”

A growing number of religious leaders have endorsed the Compassionate Care Act, understanding that, for some of their sick congregants, medical use of cannabis may be the only thing that eases their pain and suffering.

In addition to faith leaders, dozens of patients and parents of children with intractable forms of epilepsy travelled to Albany to urge passage of the bill.

“I can’t believe that Co-presidents Klein and Skelos have not brought this bill up for a vote yet,” said Missy Miller from Atlantic Beach, whose son Oliver suffers from life-threatening seizures. “Frankly, I’m disgusted that they are playing politics, while my son’s life hangs in the balance. This is medication that could help him and thousands of others. Every day the senate fails to act is day that puts my son’s life in jeopardy.  They must pass this bill, and they must do it immediately.”

The efficacy of medical cannabis for treating a range of conditions and symptoms –  including those associated with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and cancer –  is well-established. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programs.

“As a woman living with HIV, I have experienced first-hand the effects of medical marijuana in combating nausea, stimulating appetite and alleviating suffering due to neuropathic pain,” said Wanda Hernandez of the Bronx. “I’m an independent Latina living with chronic illness and disability. Making it on my own is hard enough, I’m asking that New York State stop treating me like a criminal for using medical marijuana as another tool to function as a mother, grandmother and community member.”

Twenty states, including all of those surrounding New York except Pennsylvania, have passed medical marijuana laws to ease the suffering of their sickest citizens.

“As someone living with multiple sclerosis, I can’t understand why the New York state senate continues to make our sickest citizens suffer needlessly,” said Donna Romano of Syracuse, a Vietnam-era veteran, mother, and grandmother. “If eighty-eight percent of New York voters support this, and it can help those of us struggling every day with serious illnesses, why does the senate continue to make criminals out of the sick?”

The Compassionate Care Act, which would create one of the country’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs, has strong bi-partisan support. In recent weeks, four Republican senators have come out publicly in support of the legislation, and Senator George Maziarz (R – Newfane) has called for an up and down vote in the senate.

“The New York State legislature has been considering medical marijuana legislation every year since 1997,” said gabriel sayegh, state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The scientific evidence for the medical use of cannabis is clear and compelling, and the human need for this legislation is painfully clear. There’s very strong bipartisan support, and nine out of ten New Yorkers supports it. Yet patients and families are left to suffer because the Senate won’t act. No more delays, no more ridiculous excuses. It’s time to pass the Compassionate Care Act so patients can get the relief they deserve.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. Do you remember what Gore Vidal said about the “War on Terror,” implying later the same applies to the “War on Drugs:” to declare a “war” on either is tantamount to declaring a “war on Dandruff.” about as useful and successful as either, save that the US govt, and its frightened-into-submission “allied nations,” use fear, intimidation as well as outright lies and duplicitous reports by the likes of Harry Anschlinger (reefer-madness czar). Anschlinger would use articles he had written himself to frighten US politicians into submission. Most congressman in the 1920’s and 30’s knew of hemp as an important industrial product, but had not heard of marijuana except as some sort of exotic, feared Hispanic and black used narcotic which turned black men into serial rapists and white women into their unwitting rape victims (as apparently mindless actresses), which would lead eventually to heroin usage, assault crime, and (gasp!) the worst of all to racists like Anschlinger and Edgar Hoover, the “mixing of the races,” which has happened and, oddly enough, produced some of the most beautiful women, handsome men, generally more intelligent than the non-cannabis consuming kids who burn their brain cells on violent, body-count, blood-fest video games. Why aren’t these games, which obviously pose a threat to American intellectual standards (which are, world-wide, slipping catastrophically low) or the rash of fast food joints which are deliberately selling citizens a concoction of fattening, sugar-filled, empty-caloried trash designed to produce obesity and loss of national strength and pride of image (who wants to be proud of a child, or a parent/relative, who is, like 1/3 of the American population, either really fat or grossly obese, headed for an early death?)
    Compared to the consumer-approved atrocities already well-planted in the American culture, it should be apparent that a useful, nutritious, industrially viable plant for cloth and fuel should be way more useful; and also — get this! even entire automobiles and their running fuel. In the late 40’s, robber baron turned philanthropist Henry Ford, built an entire automobile which used only hemp/cannabis products in its construction and burned hemp fuel to lubricate and burn. American priorities have been so screwed up over the past century that — yes — it will take decades to repair the damage done to the nation and its citizenry by prohibitionists who are apparently afraid of a strong, self-sufficient nation. why? they would lose their jobs of political lying and duplicity when reporting to Congress become crimes. Look at the slow collapse of religion into a fear-fest with made-up villains like the anti-Christ (never mentioned in the NT, but made a lot of money for the writers of the “Left Behind” series), cult-meetings in hugely expensive dens of iniquity led by spouters of lies to frighten the foolish into giving their money to the thieves who run the churches and to the US Dept of Defense so that illegal mercenaries can assassinate leaders of sovereign nations, making the US a war-criminal nation, a world-wide weapons dealer, nation-killer, populace murderer and women rapist, turning nations like Iraq and Afghanistan (where the US is most definitely not wanted) into radioactive deserts, killing as much “collateral” as can be done without being discovered. This behavior describes war-crimes, of the kind which has run this nation since Bush One.
    The US I grew up with in the 1950’s had a president who very perceptively warned of the growing dangerous powers of the Military-Industrial Complex. We can hope that this is not so but it is so. Can we change it in time and with honor, or shall we continue to berate a God-given and very useful plant as being dangerous because it is so medically useful, or shall we pull our heads out of our bowels and recognize what doctors, scientists and even religionists of ancient times have discovered: better to be useful than not, and hemp/cannabis is certainly better for our bodies than the ubiquitous alcohol, cigarettes, corn sugar and chemical preservatives.
    As a 35-year large format photographer, working the last 15 years in the processes of the 1840-50’s, I discovered that many of the chemicals used in these dangerous and highly poisonous processes are also used in currently-made white bread, sugar cereals, any food that should be refrigerated rather than stored on a shelf for 10 years. Will the end of prohibition also wake up Americans to the myriad of other problems, many far more serious than a little smoking cannabis, and rescue the nation before we morally bankrupt ourselves and become another Rome??

  2. Me, too. Joe Elford is the go-to attorney for national cannabis lawsuits. He’s pretty good, but no dream-team. We had a chance to sue the DEA a couple years back and really accomplish something meaningful, but Mr. Elford was arguing to get the court to reschedule cannabis by judicial order — to effectively override the DEA’s denial of the rescheduling petition.

    He tried to argue, on the merits, that their delay and denial of every petition to reschedule cannabis for the last 40 years was “arbitrary and capricious.” Sadly, it didn’t work. More sadly, we should have known it wouldn’t work — the court easily declared themselves “not the experts” and washed their hands of it.

    What we should have argued was that the petition process ITSELF is unconstitutional. The DEA shouldn’t be involved in the petition process to decide what are scheduled, federally controlled substances because their budget would shrink dramatically if they had to stop cannabis enforcement. Article 1 guarantees citizens the right to petition the government to redress grievances, so any avenue of petition that is rigged to always delay and deny petitions (because of a clear conflict of interests) is a cut-and-dry violation of our First Amendment rights.

    The DEA should not have power to decide policy that directly impacts their budget and enforcement priorities — no other government agency gets to decide policy to ensure their budget stays bloated, and neither should the DEA.

    That’s what the lawsuit should have been about — stripping the DEA’s control over the rescheduling petition process. It’s a more technical point to argue in court and not nearly as glamorous as achieving de/rescheduling in one shot, but it would have put us CLOSER to federal rescheduling than we are, now.

  3. I completely agree, and your friend is a smart man. It’s sad that Big-Ag lobbies so hard for regulations small farmers can’t/won’t comply with. Those crazy regulations (intended for disgusting industrial food processing operations, not small farms) stamp out Big-Ag’s competition. It’s really sad, and the main reason there’s less and less FOOD in our food.

    And I wasn’t being rude when I said “the dirty south” — that’s just what some folks call it, proudly. Dixie, the bible belt, the deep south, the dirty south, etc etc etc. All just nicknames, no harm intended. People prefer those to saying “the southeast” or “rural America.”

  4. I absolutely agree that the Prohibition in ending, but, as a functioning democracy, we need to keep the invectives out of the conversation, and concentrate on the common needs and approaches. I recently met someone who acquired his powerful herb from a pig-farmer in Goergia. When asked why he had left a generations-old form of paying job for growing an illegal plant (in Georgia, one may legally receive a misdemeanor charge, but some judicial decisions have regarded such folks as our particular farmer as felons, to be stripped them of their property, right to drive or even to apply for a license, hefty fines (in addition to loss of tools with which to earn the money for the fine), and indeterminate hours, days, weeks, months or even years in community service and/or jailtime, the farmer replied that because his buyers insisted on including hormonal chemicals in the animals’ feed which simply went against his “redneck sensibilities about government keeping their dirty noses out of our American agricultural policies;” — his words, not mine. No member of his family had ever fed their hogs chemicals like hormones or water-retaining medications, and he was not about to start. Besides, he had seen how crazy his neighbor’s pigs acted after getting their meds. Not pleasant. He had really liked raising animals, but if no one of his former buyers would touch his “organic pork,” he considered something that his migrant workers brought with them, for end-of-hard-workday relaxation, funny jokes, easy comraderie amongst former strangers, and sure smelled nicer than his beloved porcine’s bowel production. The farmer was obviously a smart man (even if from the South!!!!), and reasoned that as a farmer — and believer in the notion that mankind is on the planet to steward the land, not rape it — he ought to grow a plant which would be nutritious in its plentiful seeds, make rope for his hay-making, re-build his damaged soil, have a relatively harmless plant to puff on at the end of the day to be relieved of aches and pains and feel like having a nice quiet time with his new friends. From 5 acres grown with corn-beans-squash, mixed with Can Sat and Can Ind in separate patches to control growth and production for the next crop. He said that no doubt it was hard work, but thoroughly enjoyable, and he paid off his farm for the first time since the Depression. If a southern bible-believing farmer can see our point of view and even encourage it, then it is time to stop calling other American citizens as living “in the dirty South.” When it comes to polluted environment, the North has it years ahead of the South.

  5. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Your comments have been duly noted, wowFAD. Thanks for sharing! Without prompt action in the executive branch or the U.S. Congress, I wish a dream team of lawyers (including the folks above at 420-law.com!) would collaborate on a massive class-action lawsuit against the DEA, NIDA, ONDCP, and whatever other federal agencies have blocked this crucial amendment to the Controlled Substances Act. How many millions of Americans have suffered or died without safe and legal access to medical cannabis? How many billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted surveilling, arresting and imprisoning nonviolent cannabis offenders? The anti-cannabis tyranny is so vast, and proves beyond any doubt that the country we call America is DEAD. Our basic rights to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ are long gone. Personally, I have lost my patience with these criminals. I want our America back today!

  6. A nation of oligarchs. Power corrupts. There has always been more money and by extension power in prohibition than in freedom. Whether it be freedom for people or a plant. Prohibition was instituted by fear, and as the fear was ratcheted up, so to the money to fight this irrational fear. Now the REAL addiction starts to show. The prohibitionists addiction to money. Money at all costs. The lives of each of us stands forfeit to the greed of these oligarchs – the NY Senate in this case. Obviously not representatives of the people – the 88% anyway. More like the Roman Senate of old – powerful – corrupt – self-seeking.

  7. Heh. You better believe it. The DEA/NIDA monopoly on cannabis research is, IMHO, their greatest weapon and 100% illegal. The CSA requires the DEA to grant license to reject/approve all clinical research concernng Schedule 1 & 2 substances to certain agencies that will also be responsible for supplying those substances upon approval of the research. Right now, the DEA has *only* licensed the NIDA to do so for cannabis, and in turn, the NIDA ensures no domestic clinical research into cannabis gets approved if that research could show cannabis is safe and/or beneficial. Thus, this cements cannabis into Schedule 1 because the DEA always falls back on the same old “there are no clinical trials proving safety” chestnut when they end up in court for delaying and/or denying petitions to reschedule cannabis, which is true — the NIDA doesn’t allow the clinical trials to happen.

    Because we’re a capitalist society, we have anti-monopoly laws to ensure no one artificially inflates prices by having ANY market unfairly cornered. That makes the NIDA’s exclusive license as the only federally recognized supplier of cannabis illegal, as they are compensated for the cannabis they distribute for research (they don’t just give it away for free).

    Frankly, I’m shocked no one has pointed out how this rigged game is the very definition of socialism (the government owns and operates the only legally recognized means of manufacturing, distributing, and providing goods and services). Thankfully, this rigged socialist game will end if cannabis is moved to Schedule 3 or better. The CSA only requires approval from a DEA-licensed distributor for clinical research of *JUST* Schedule 1 & 2 substances, so clinical studies into the safety and medical efficacy of cannabis would be able to FINALLY proceed if cannabis moves to Schedule 3 or better (whether the DEA, NIDA, ONDCP, etc. like it or not).

  8. Big Throbbin Johnson on


    We have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time! Stay positive! It may seem like things are happening slowly, but that is just impatience. For the first time in human history we witnessed a campaign to deny access to one of God’s great gifts to mankind-the marijuana plant. Like all botany (and animals), it is on Earth to provide some service to mankind. Yet, a campaign that was funded with the money of the richest humans on Earth ended in less than 100 years–and in flames! No greater harm has ever come to this planet than that caused by prohibiting the use of hemp and marijuana and it will never happen! Way to go team!

  10. I’m aware that it “has been” a national issue — I wasn’t implying otherwise. I was suggesting it will be a national issue people pay attention to, finally, by putting it on par with two of the most hot-button public issues that aren’t laughed at when someone brings them up.

    And you forgot about Gil Kerlikowske, the “drug czar,” director of the ONDCP until just a couple weeks ago when the Senate confirmed his nomination to be the new head of customs and boarder patrols. The budgets for the DEA and the NIDA (by far the two biggest culprits of cannabis prohibition) are appropriated through the ONDCP. Whoever gets appointed to Gil’s old job could either change the game forever or at least clue us in to exactly where Obama’s head is at concerning this issue. If he nominates another prohibition mouth-piece, we know Obama isn’t in our corner.

  11. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Sorry, in a rush to post I mistakenly identified Dr. Nora Volkow. She’s the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The NIDA and DEA are reportedly the two agencies that deny most of the applications for cannabis research.

  12. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Rescheduling in the federal Controlled Substances Act has been “a national issue” since September 1988, when administrative judge Francis L. Young instructed the Drug Enforcement Administration to move “marihuana” to Schedule II. Sadly, the anti-cannabis tyranny has already managed to block that action for 25 years, and its agents are far more powerful than many of us like to admit (I’d say it’s part of a vast merger between corporations and government, otherwise called Fascism). The eco-friendly raw materials of cannabis plants can be utilized for industry (manufacturing), medicine, nutrition and recreation. They therefore represent DIRECT threats to the profits of giant corporations like Monsanto, DuPont and and Pfizer, which have lobbied hard all these years to maintain the plants’ illegal status. I’d love to see some brave reporters follow the money trail down the rabbit hole and break this still-unfolding story!
    According to the good people at http://www.marijuana.com (click “recent news” and flip through the pages), there are FIVE federal officials who are today enforcing the anti-cannabis tyranny: Michele Leonhart, administrator of the DEA; Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Services; Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Health; Kim Thorson, deputy asst. secretary for the Dept. of the Interior; and Michael Gottlieb, national director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. Despite his recent honesty in public comments regarding cannabis, President Barack Obama is more or less powerless to amend the Controlled Substances Act with tyrants like them spewing nonsense in his ears.

  13. Once NY and FL establish medical cannabis programs, in terms of population, more than half the country will have access.

    My personal list of states likely to get medical cannabis in the next two years are New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, and at least one bible belt state in the dirty south — probably Alabama, maybe Kentucky or Georgia (I hope) depending on how the local midterm elections turn out, this year.

    By 2016, rescheduling at the federal level will be a national issue on par with marriage equality and job creation. Prohibition is crumbling away.

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