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‘toking’ it over the line

Brooklyn state legislators have high hopes for a renewed push to legalize medical marijuana in New York.

State Senators Velmanette Montgomery of Red Hook and Fort Greene, Martin Malave Dilan of Williamsburg, Kevin Parker of Flatbush and Diane Savino of Bay Ridge have all sponsored a bill to bring an end to the ever−budding debate and provide seriously ill patients “safe access to medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations.”

A similar bill in the New York State Assembly has received the blessings of members Joan Millman of Carroll Gardens, Steve Cymbrowitz of Sheepshead Bay, James Brennan of Park Slope, Alec Brook−Krasny of Coney Island, Dov Hikind of Borough Park, Alan Maisel of Mill Basin, Rhoda Jacobs of Flatbush and Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Vito Lopez.

The bills, which were submitted by Manhattan State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, demand that medical marijuana be regulated much like steroids and morphine.

If the bills become law, the amount of medical marijuana one could legally possesses cannot exceed twelve adult plants, or two and a half ounces, at any given time and users must be registered with the department of health and be given an identification card proving that they are, unlike the 42nd president, authorized to inhale.

“Medical marijuana’s safety and efficacy in treating certain painful, often life−threatening diseases is a well−documented scientific fact,” Duane said. “There is no reason we can’t establish common−sense controls to ensure safe access to this medicine for suffering patients who have their doctors’ recommendations while ensuring it doesn’t wind up in the wrong hands.”

A spokesperson from Millman’s office said that the Assemblywoman does “feels very strongly” about the benefits of medical marijuana.

“We have got to trust the doctors,” the spokesman said.

While they were not listed as sponsors, other borough legislators said that they support medical marijuana.

“Research has shown that people with debilitating ailments with constant, excruciating pain can find relief with medical marijuana,” said State Senator Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain. “This landmark legislation should not be interpreted as approval of recreational use of this substance. It merely shows that government is benevolent toward those who suffer greatly and find some respite from the controlled, medically approved use of marijuana.”

The bills specifically point out that “legalizing the medical use of effective medicine does not undermine the message that nonmedical use of illegal drugs is wrong,” meaning that approving medical marijuana is not a precursor to the overall legalization of the drug.

Thirteen states have already legalized medical marijuana. Similar bills to New York’s are currently being considered in New Jersey and New Hampshire.

Bruce Mirkin, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which for some time has been lobbying Albany to legalize marijuana in New York State, said that the two bills made complete sense.

“We know from experiences in other states that medical marijuana works and that doesn’t cause any additional problems,” Mirkin said. “The fact that we are still fighting to protect patients who need medical marijuana from getting arrested is a sign of just how slow and unresponsive the political process has been.”

“There’s no excuse for further delay,” Mirkin said.

Both bills are currently being reviewed by the Senate and Assembly’s health committees.

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