New York Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Gains Much-Needed Support From City Council

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Efforts to get medical cannabis laws passed in the Big Apple received a shot in the arm yesterday when the New York City Council voted to support a state bill that would pave the way for MMJ legalization.

The nonbinding city council resolution – approved by voice vote – shows that there is at least some degree of political will behind moves to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes. In fact, the council overwhelmingly supports MMJ legalization: Just three of the 51 council members voted against the cannabis resolution – citing concerns that marijuana would wind up in the hands of children – while another abstained from voting.

After receiving approval from the Mental Health committee and passing through the State Assembly, the medical cannabis bill is currently languishing in the state Senate.

If lawmakers end up approving the bill, it would mark a watershed moment for the medical marijuana industry, given that New York is such an influential city and cultural powerhouse in the United States. It could clear the way for other states to approve similar measure and make MMJ more acceptable overall. It also would open up opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs, MMJ lawyers, security companies, hydroponics businesses and a host of other firms that service the industry.

But there’s a long way to go. This, after all, isn’t the first time New York has weighed medical marijuana legislation. Lawmakers have proposed several MMJ bills over the past decade, and they have passed the state Assembly twice only to die in the Senate.

The difference this time around is that medical cannabis has much more support, with several prominent health organizations – including the Medical Society of the State of New York and the Palliative Care Association of New York – coming out in favor of MMJ legalization. The issue of marijuana in general has also reached a boiling point, as the state has found itself at the center of criticism over the relatively high number of arrests it makes for low-level pot possession, which some say is crowding jails with light offenders.