On Saturday, hundreds of people attended the fourth annual NYC Cannabis Parade in New York City’s Union Square to commemorate the 2015 Global Cannabis March. Marijuana advocates rallied together to support the legalization of marijuana in New York State.
Troy Smit is the organizer of the parade. He told NBC News that the purpose of the NYC Cannabis Parade is to “end the war on drugs, release the medicine, free the prisoners, heal the sick, and unite the nations.”
NYC Cannabis Parade is especially important this year
The NYC Cannabis Parade is especially important this year because it comes less than two months after the New York State Health Department issued regulations pertaining to New York’s legal medical marijuana market. The Health Department’s regulations have been criticized by a number of marijuana advocates as being too restrictive.
The regulations will prevent many potential patients from accessing the medicine they need. The Health Department only allows for 20 medical dispensaries to be run by five organizations established throughout the state. Each organization will be allowed to open up to four dispensaries to distribute medical marijuana to registered patients.
New York’s medical marijuana program will allow state-certified doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy and other serious diseases and conditions. The patients who actually qualify for medical marijuana will face restrictions such as medical marijuana cannot be smoked. Registered patients will be allowed to consume medical marijuana through pills, oils and vaporizers.
Senator Krueger’s marijuana bill not expected to pass this year
In January, New York State Senator Liz Krueger re-introduced Senate Bill 1747, dubbed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Martin Dilan, Brad Hoylman, Velmanette Montgomery, and Gustavo Rivera. The bill would legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and would also decriminalize the possession of marijuana for adults over the age of 18.
In 2013, New York State Senator Liz Krueger and State Assembly member Crystal Peoples-Stokes sponsored a similar bill, which never made it out of the Senate committee. Although Senate Bill 1747 has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee, Brad Usher, Krueger’s chief of staff, does not expect the bill to pass this year.
If the demonstrators have their way, New York would become the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana. If Senate Bill 1747 passes, New York would become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through legislation. The four states that have already legalized recreational marijuana did so through popular vote.
Even though State Senator Krueger does not expect Senate Bill 1747 to pass during 2015, the bill will keep the conversation going, which is a necessary first step to its ultimate passage. Hopefully one of the Senators who co-sponsored Kreuger’s bill will step up and sponsor the bill that was recently introduced by State Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried.
Many patients who are suffering from debilitating diseases need access to medical marijuana now. The goal of Chairman Gottfried’s bill is to get these patients early access to the medicine they need. The existing legal medicine that these patients have access to is not working and recent delays in New York’s medical marijuana program will result in unnecessary pain and potentially, loss of life.