Is New York Ready for Medical Marijuana?

By
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Now that New Jersey has legalized medical marijuana, will New York follow suit? Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried thinks so. Gottfried sponsors legislation to legalize medical marijuana nearly every year and each time it fails. He's hoping that changes this year now national momentum finally seems to be behind legalization. Gottfried's bill, which is similar to another in the state Senate, would allow the use of marijuana to treat illnesses like cancer, arthritis or H.I.V.

"I think that the main obstacle over the years has been the fear of many in public life to touch anything with drugs," Gottfried told the Times. "But I think the climate around the states has changed."

The question is, has the climate in this state changed? The Times suggests that it has, as several Republicans are quietly willing to support legalization. The main opponent remains the state Conservative Party, whose leader, Michael Long, said "there is no medical proof that marijuana assists anyone anyway. It would open the floodgates for misuse.”

Beyond opponents, the true obstacle standing in the way of legalization is Albany itself. As Gabriel Sayegh, project director for the Drug Policy Alliance Network, put it, "If New York doesn’t pass medical marijuana legislation it has everything to do with the dysfunction in Albany."

Medical Marijuana Supporters Wonder if Time Has Come [City Room/NYT]