NEW YORK: On Friday, New York became the 23rd state to pass a bill creating legal access to medical marijuana for patients with certain serious, debilitating conditions. Without question, this is a huge victory for New York patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other conditions who have been waiting many years for relief.
Still, the law leaves unchanged the unconscionable status quo in which tens of thousands of New Yorkers, most of them black and Latino, are put through the criminal justice system for mere possession of small amounts of marijuana.
And even within the context of medical marijuana, the legislation is the result of political compromises with the governor that were needed to gain final passage. Those compromises include serious limitations that will leave many patients behind and complicate implementation. It becomes clear that politics, not science, drove the final agreement.
For instance, the bill represents an extraordinary level of intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship by narrowly defining the list of conditions for which physicians can recommend marijuana for medical use.