The legislation would require patients certified to obtain marijuana to register with the state Health Department. The bill would authorize those suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV and other debilitating diseases and conditions to obtain marijuana for therapeutic relief.
Eighteen states already permit medical marijuana. According to a Siena College poll completed last year, 61 percent of New York voters agree that medical marijuana should be permitted.
Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, said he is far from sold on the idea, largely because allowing medical marijuana in New York would put state statutes in conflict with federal laws that outlaw marijuana.
Lopez said he believes the issue should be decided by the FDA, rather than by state legislatures passing laws that could put citizens at risk of being prosecuted by the federal government.
Two local sheriffs — Richard Devlin Jr. of Otsego County and Tony Desmond of Schoharie County — said they want to know more about how medical marijuana would be controlled.
“I know it could help some people, but there could be a lot of abuse,” Desmond said.
The legislation, which is also before the Assembly, has 68 co-sponsors, including 10 Senate Democrats.