Medical marijuana advocates in New York have announced a month-long series of events urging lawmakers to pass the state's Compassionate Care Act, a bill aimed at legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
The program's launch also coincides with a report in the Buffalo News profiling New York families who are relocating to states such as Colorado, where marijuana use is now legal, to access a marijuana treatment for children called Charlotte's Web.
“I couldn’t wait, because if she got bad again, she could die," Don Burger, whose 8-year-old daughter suffers from daily seizures, told the Buffalo News.
Forgoing additional surgery, Burger and his wife recently made the decision to move to Colorado in order to gain access to medical marijuana for their daughter. He says since receiving the oil-based marijuana treatments -- which lack the compounds that produce a high -- his daughter has experienced as increase in both appetite and overall attentiveness.
“She said ‘apple’ the other day,” he told the paper. “She’s saying ‘hi’ and going to preschool.”
A recent poll found an overwhelming 88 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing medical marijuana, but previous attempts to pass such legislation have ultimately been blocked in the state senate.
The "March for Compassion" events will include public seminars and educational meetings with politicians in hopes to spur the state take action.
“Medical marijuana helps me remain active and contribute to my family and my community," supporter Susan Rusink said in a statement released by the Drug Policy Alliance ahead of Monday's announcement. "The NY Senate needs to stop playing politics and pass the Compassionate Care Act immediately.”
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has outlined a plan to pass legislation legalizing limited use of medical marijuana, advocates are skeptical about the seriousness of his proposal. Medical marijuana supporters have been calling for a more comprehensive bill.
“The proposal that the governor has put forth is not the solution that patients need in this state,” Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance told the New York Times after Cuomo's announcement. “It’s great if they want to move something forward that gets the ball rolling — cool, do it — but that, for us, is not the same thing as a comprehensive system.”