It’s a great day to be a medical marijuana fan in New York. The New York State Senate Health Committee passed S. 4041-B, (NY Senate’s medical marijuana bill) earlier today. Although the same bill died in last year’s session, this time around things look much more promising. The Assembly’s version of the bill, A. 9016, passed earlier this year and is waiting to be heard in the Assembly Codes Committee (see link). Final passage of these bills is likely in my opinion for a few reasons:
1. New Jersey passed medical marijuana legislation, so why not New York? It seems only logical.
2. The only reason that it stalled last year was because of Senate leadership wrangling. There is less distractions this year, and momentum is building. The assembly passed bills in 2007 and 2008, and it passed in the Senate in 2009 for the first time. 2010 could be the year that it all culminates
3. Even a majority of New York State Republicans (55%) support medical marijuana, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month. The poll found that 71% of New Yorkers support medical marijuana overall.
4. New York is looking for money anywhere they can get. According to New York State’s Division of Budget, there is going to be an estimated $8.2 billion shortfall for the 2010-2011 budget period. Although I think it would be impossible for medical marijuana to raise that much in tax revenue, even in New York State, it is a good argument to use to get politicians to approve the legislation!
From here more details will be figured out by the committees in each chamber, and final bills will be drafted and presented to the Assembly and Senate floors for a vote (which I predict will be a yes vote in both chambers), then to a reconciliation committee, and then on to Governor Paterson. This process could take several months, but if all goes well, it will be worth the wait!!