Medical marijuana: New York governor proposes pilot program
The airport is in the process of finalizing a policy that says people could be fined $150 for the first violation and up to $999 for multiple infractions. “To deny safe access to medical marijuana at the airport is unnecessary, and I think it’s cruel,” said Rachel Gillette with NORML, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, at a public meeting Wednesday. Medical marijuana patients said, for them, it’s not about flying high, but having access to needed medicine. “I have fibromyalgia,” said patient Teri Robnett, who also spoke at the meeting. “I’ve had it for 26 years. I’ve tried a lot of different treatments and medical cannabis is by far the most effective treatment.” She pulled cannabis gummy candy, mouth spray and lotion from her purse, saying she carries products with her everywhere. Robnett said she’s never had trouble boarding a plane at DIA with cannabis. “Generally how it works, if you show TSA you have a medical marijuana license, which I do, they generally will let you go through,” she said. No one from law enforcement, TSA or the airport would confirm that’s happening, citing that marijuana is banned by the TSA and not allowed on aircraft. “It’s been inconsistent,” said DIA spokeswoman Stacey Stegman. “It’s probably depending on who was working at any given time and what knowledge they have and a whole host of things.” Stegman says a ban on pot everywhere on airport grounds would help clear up any confusion. There are already signs posted notifying passengers they can’t carry, use, grow or transport marijuana even though Stegman said the airport manager still has to give final approval to the policy. Jason Warf, a patient and legislative director for the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council said DIA’s policy could be a costly one. “I have a need for medication while traveling as do most patients. It’s our medication,” Warf said. “When you’re stopped and your medicine is confiscated and you’re subsequently fined, I believe that’s going to lead to a lot of legal action against DIA.” Colorado Springs Airport announced Wednesday that it will also ban marijuana at the airport, a rule that takes effect Friday.
But most New Yorkers want their state to follow the lead of others that have relaxed marijuana laws, according to several polls and Cuomo is up for reelection in November. Cuomo briefly mentioned his medical marijuana plan deep into his address and indicated it would be a pilot program, not necessarily permanent. Research suggests that medical marijuana can help manage the pain and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses, he said, noting that 20 other states have allowed it to be prescribed for some illnesses. He said New York would establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to distribute marijuana. We will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of a medical marijuana system, Cuomo said. He provided no other details. On Jan. 1, Colorado became the first state in the nation to allow the sale of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Washington state is expected to open some pot stores this year. California has allowed medical marijuana since 1996. Despite New Yorks liberal leanings, it has resisted pot legalization. Several attempts to pass state laws permitting some use of marijuana have failed, most recently in 2013, even though a Quinnipiac University survey in June found that 70% of New Yorkers favored medical marijuana and 26% opposed. Proponents of changing the law said Cuomos announcement was a positive step but did not go far enough. The governors executive order serves as an important step towards the wholesale reform of the states marijuana laws, which are painfully out of date, needlessly harsh and have a devastating impact on communities of color, said the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Donna Lieberman.
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