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New York still lacks medical marijuana law

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have now adopted laws to allow medical marijuana. One of the most recent states to do so was one of New York's neighbors, Connecticut.

Will New York follow suit anytime soon? Regardless of the answer, authorities' approach to low-level drug possession cases is certainly in need of review. After all, law enforcement officials in New York and other states have arrested thousands of people for nonviolent drug possession offenses in recent years.

In cases of marijuana possession, that type of enforcement is increasingly at odds with changing attitudes toward the drug. It isn't only that so many states now allow pot for therapeutic purposes, so long as someone has a recognized medical condition. Two states - Colorado and Washington - have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

In New York, advocates for medical marijuana are becoming more vocal. In the past, propels to allow medical marijuana in New York have met with a mixed reception at the state legislature. The Assembly has supported such proposals, but the State Senate has not yet allowed them to come to a vote.

The issue is not going away, however, despite the past setbacks. Many people who suffer from serious medical conditions that could be alleviated by medical marijuana are hoping the legislature decides to let New York join Connecticut and the other states that have legalized pot for pain relief and other therapeutic uses.

To be sure, once a state passes a medical marijuana law, there are plenty of implementation issues. Guidelines about what medical conditions are covered, for example, must be ironed out. The role of doctors in prescribing medical marijuana must also be clarified. These are only two examples. But other states have faced them squarely, and New York could too.

Source: "Advocates renew call for Medical Marijuana in New York," wnyt.com, Bill Lambdin, 1-25-13

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