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Most favor legalizing medical marijuana

Rochester Business Journal
June 13, 2014

More than 80 percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say New York should allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes.

The state Assembly has passed a bill legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. A version of the legislation has been approved by the Senate Health Committee, but the prospects for passage by the full Senate before this session ends remain unclear.

The legislation would allow the possession and use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by seriously ill patients for whom use has been prescribed by doctors, physician assistants or nurse practitioners. Registered organizations would be allowed to dispense the drug to certified users and their caregivers.

Early this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a much more limited program under which some hospitals would be able to dispense marijuana to patients.

Cuomo in the past also has supported decriminalizing the possession for personal use of a small amount of marijuana in “open view.” In New York, in-home possession currently is a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine.

One-fifth of respondents say marijuana possession for non-medical use should be a criminal offense, compared with 53 percent who say pot should be legalized in New York and 26 percent more who say it should be decriminalized.

When the same question was asked in an April 2013 Snap Poll, 63 percent of respondents supported the legalization in New York of personal possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Thirty-seven percent of respondents opposed legalizing marijuana possession in the state; 19 percent of those said it should be decriminalized.

More than 20 states and the District of Columbia already permit medical marijuana in some form. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational use.

Cuomo said Monday that he would sign a medical marijuana bill if it “makes sense.” But Senate Finance Committee chairman John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said this week that his committee will not put the legislation to a vote. The legislative session ends next week.

Roughly 830 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted June 10 and 11.

Should New York allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes?
Yes: 83%
No: 17%

Should possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal, non-medical use be legalized in New York?
Yes: 53%
No, but decriminalize it: 26%
No, it should be a criminal offense: 21%

We should legalize, regulate, quality-control and tax marijuana for all.
—Ken Maher (a non-user)

Looking at Colorado, with increased tax revenues and lower violent crime since their legalization, it makes sense. Imagine the additional revenue in the state coffers and what that could mean to everyone.
—Scott Ireland

This is classic government! Creating and spending emotional energy on a relatively meaningless thing while we have crises in the education and economic sectors of the state. This is another reminder that we should not tolerate such behavior from those we elect to govern.
—Dave Kennedy, Webster

Marijuana is a complex substance with many varieties and varying potencies. My understanding is that these have not been studied adequately for effectiveness, potency or contraindications. Would physicians be expected to prescribe marijuana without such standards in place?
—Paul Lambiase

Even as other states have already legalized marijuana, it may take years to know legal marijuana’s effect on other aspects of society, such as on teenage drug use and increased car accidents. Let other states be the guinea pigs, for now.
—Peter J. Gregory, Rochester

Since more people die each year from prescription drugs than all narcotics combined, we should at least decriminalize them and focus on treatment rather than incarceration. Take the big money out of narcotics, and the drug cartels are powerless. The “war on drugs” is a billion-dollar boondoggle.
—Carlos Mercado

Gee, it has only been nearly 20 years since California legislated medical cannabis. We can see how abject and depraved California has become as a result. New York State is so far behind the times that it really doesn’t matter what our idiot legislators do or don’t do anymore. They rarely make the right decisions on just about anything and, of course, prohibit any kind of referendum because the people are too “stupid” to know better than the politicians. So leave it illegal. Let’s spend thousands of dollars on police, judges, lawyers, jails, prisons and corrections guards (but not one cent on mental health) and let’s not rock the state’s money-collecting and life-ruining policies. Who even needs the state? Rather than getting the tax revenue for legal cannabis, let’s just keep raising sales, property, income, gasoline, Thruway tolls and other taxes (not to mention “fees”) until only the very rich or very unfortunate can live in New York State. I don’t even like calling it marijuana because it’s a pejorative term used by cotton farmers back at the turn of the 20th century to demonize something that the Mexicans had brought north. Hemp, as it was called at that time, was outlawed so it wouldn’t compete against the cotton farmer’s crop. I wonder if we all made big donations to Mr. DeFrancisco’s (“Repugnican” from Syracuse) re-election campaign that maybe he’d come to his senses. Money (or the promise of greater office, which works for “Dimocrat” Cuomo) seems to always be effective when it comes to politicians of either party.
—Bob Fischl, president,
Top Creative Concepts

The compassionate side of legalizing non-medicinal use is that the seriously ill would not need to smoke alone as they battle their illness. However, how would we enforce “Don’t toke and drive”? If legal, how could we keep the air clear for non-smokers at outdoor concerts and parks?
—Sally Howard

We spend too much time on police work for such trivial things. Add to it: prostitution, drugs and other forbidden activities. Have them pay taxes. With savings on police work, it is a double whammy! Use it to fix the state!
—Ingo H. Leubner,
Crystallization Consulting

The only things the government does right are drugs, alcohol and corruption. They are already running gambling (off-track betting, lotteries). Marijuana should be legalized and never privatized. Let state-run agencies control and tax it, regulate it to death like they do small private businesses, then lower income and property taxes.
—Bill Lanigan

Medical “Maryjane” should have tight controls on it. Remember what happened in California.
—Lew Pulvino

Yes, however, monitor very closely to guarantee benefits and not liabilities.
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

I think it should be legalized for medical use and decriminalized. We have thousands of people in prison for possession and use of marijuana; those that have used it or possessed it and have not performed any physical crimes should be moved out of prison and allowed to re-enter society. Imagine the money we would save and reduced prison population alone and taxes collected for purchase of legalized marijuana. Oh, by the way, I don’t use marijuana, but who am I to tell you that you can or cannot use it?
—Peter Bonenfant

Have you Googled a photo of one ounce of marijuana? I suggest you do. One ounce is a large amount, and unless the patient needs that amount, a smaller dosage would be better. I’m not a smoker, but if I was critically sick and I knew it would save my life, you could count me in. Let’s be reasonable about this; legalize it and monitor the distribution.
—Rich Calabrese Jr., Rochester

At times, medical marijuana is the only effective alternative treatment for nausea, headache and a number of other annoying problems. This has been found in the states where marijuana has been legalized. I would be surprised if any more than the 10 percent of users of marijuana became addicted, like the 10 percent of users of opiates and alcohol who become. We’d still have all the restrictions against illegal marijuana use including driving while intoxicated and giving it to children. If we legalized up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal, non-medical use, it would free up law enforcement for more useful things and we wouldn’t have such a great need for casinos for tax revenue. A local sheriff told me that the majority of the marijuana in the Rochester area was grown legally in Washington and Colorado. He said he felt odd arresting sellers and users of marijuana, which had been grown legally.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.

6/13/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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