New York is inching closer to full marijuana legalization, with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo expected to include language ending prohibition in his forthcoming budget, but that's not stopping legislators from putting forward bills in the meantime to expand the state's existing medical cannabis program.
There are two new pre-filed pieces of legislation on the table in the state Senate: one to allow patients to smoke marijuana and another that would permit qualifying students to have medical cannabis administered at school.
While medical marijuana is legal in New York, the law currently prohibits smoking cannabis products. Democratic state Sen. Gustavo Rivera sponsored legislation that would change that, amending state law to delete a section that says “certified medical use [of marijuana] does not include smoking.”
It would also add a section banning smoking “in any place where tobacco may not be smoked … regardless of the form of medical marihuana [sic] stated in the patient's certification.”
Democratic state Sen. Brian Benjamin pre-filed the separate education bill. Named Tanshin's Law, the legislation would grant designated caregivers the ability to administer cannabis to certified patients “on school grounds, aboard a school bus, or [while] attending a school-sponsored event.”
Under the proposed legislation, school administrators would have to be able to verify that a student is a registered medical marijuana patient, identify where the medicine could be administered on school grounds and prohibit patients from smoking or vaping cannabis.
The bill would also allow facilities that service people with developmental disabilities to designate caregivers and administer marijuana to certified patients. Similar requirements such as verifying the registration of medical cannabis patients and prohibiting smoking and vaping would be in effect.
Benjamin attempted to get a vote on the legislation last year as well, but it stalled in committee.
Permitting the administration of medical marijuana in schools seems to be a legislative trend in 2019, as lawmakers in two other states — Washington and Virginia — also pre-filed education bills to expand cannabis access for students while on school grounds. States such as Colorado, Illinois, and Florida already have such laws in place, but an attempt in California failed after outgoing Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the legislation.
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Feature image: Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, shown in 2010, has signaled that marijuana legalization is a priority in his latest term. Two bills have been pre-filed by state legislators; one would allow medical marijuana patients to consume smokable marijuana, the other would allow students who qualify for medical marijuana to administer their medication at school or during off-campus school activities. (Photo by Pat Arnow via Wikimedia Commons; used with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)