By Diane Savino
New York is well on its way to becoming the nineteenth state to pass and adopt medical marijuana legislation.
Last week, my co-sponsor Dick Gottfried and I introduced our state’s new and improved medical marijuana bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act.
We created this legislation by examining and improving on the best practices in states that have already approved medical marijuana. Our bill is focused on the well-regarded seed-to-sale tracking model that currently exists in Colorado and will soon be implemented in Connecticut. From the time approved growers put the plant in the ground to the time the product is sold to the patient, state regulators will know exactly where the product is.
We will not be the Wild West. Our legislation’s goal is to regulate, track and tax medical marijuana while at the same time provide needed relief for thousands of suffering New Yorkers. Preliminary estimates show the bill will raise hundreds of millions of dollars for New York’s economy and create countless jobs in the state.
The strict regulatory measures will ensure that only doctors with pre-existing relationships with patients will be able to recommend medical marijuana. At the same time, our bill caps the amount a single patient can receive at two ounces per month.
The legislation also clearly states that only individuals suffering from the most debilitating diseases (cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, etc.) will have access to the medication. There won’t be any loopholes that have been exploited in states like California.
The bill also ensures that localities benefit from the financial influx this system will generate. Under our legislation, municipalities where the marijuana is grown or dispensed will share in exactly half of the revenue. That money could then be used to lower the crushing property tax burden for homeowners in those communities.
The Compassionate Care Act is that rare piece of legislation that does not have a downside. Everyone from patients to commercial real estate companies to local municipalities to law enforcement and taxpayers will see the positive effects of this bill.
Dick Gottfried, myself and medical cannabis advocates are confident that once the facts are out there, state lawmakers will pass the legislation and the governor will sign it into law – making New York the leader in safe, sensible and compassionate medical marijuana legislation.
Diane Savino represents the 23rd Senate District in New York State, a region that encompasses the North Shore of Staten Island and portions of Brooklyn.