New York State Needs to Get High

Why NY should stop hating on medical marijuana

By Olivia St. Denis

Damn. Just when New York couldn’t suck any more, the good people in the New York State Senate remind me why I’ve officially lost my Empire State of Mind.

New York still hates on medical marijuana. Despite proposed legislation exempting qualified medical cannabis patients from state arrest and prosecution, the state Senate fucked it up in 2009 for the rest of us by stamping a big fat “denied” on both pro-medical marijuana bills. I’ve said goodbye to my dreams of standing in line to get my Medicare application approved, calling my local dispensary employees by their first name, and sharing a spliff with my glaucoma-ridden grandmother.

The state government’s oversight of medical marijuana’s positive fiscal effects alone caused $15 million of potential revenue to go up in smoke. That’s no small chunk of change for a state with a $9 billion budget gap. The joint bills proposed to legalize “the possession, manufacture, use, delivery, transfer, transport, or administration of marijuana by a certified patient or designated caregiver for a certified medical use.” If the Joint Bills passed, state-qualified patients could have possessed up to 2.5 ounces of hashish and cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants for medicinal purposes.

The Joint Bills, sponsored by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried and Senate Health Committee Chair Tom Duane, progressed through all the useless bureaucratic committees before taking its last hit at the big house. State Democrats even included projected revenue generated from the sale of medical marijuana in their 2010-2011 budget proposal. The Senate approved this budget 125 days late and nearly left the state operating without one.

I’m certain they didn't give “I was gonna pass the budget on time, but then I got high” as an excuse, so why the hell not legalize medical bud when people who don’t even smoke can’t get their shit done on time? In addition to the estimated $15 million generated in licensing fees by “licensing non-profit organizations to manufacture and distribute marijuana to authorized patients,” consider the other areas of industry that could benefit from legalized medical bud: the hydroponic systems industry, the glass-blowing business, head shops, and whoever makes Doritos.

If you’re still not convinced of its positive impact, think of all the drug dealers who would suffer from the legalization of medicinal marijuana. Fewer drug dealers not only means no more little Timmys getting hold of things they're not supposed to, but also less crime, fewer arrests, and less overcrowding in state prisons. The possibility of hefty financial gain aside, New York officiators missed the most important reason to legalize medical marijuana: its ability to help people.

Studies show that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) effectively relieves nausea caused by chemotherapy treatments. Cannabis relieves muscle pain and spasticity for multiple sclerosis patients, and helps maintain body weight for people with debilitating diseases such as AIDS-related wasting syndrome. So, that free-floating feeling after a deep inhale helps more than just satisfying an imaginary hunger.

Plus, what happened to, “laughter is the best medicine?” I beg anyone who hasn’t smoked a bowl and watched a Wipeout marathon to try it. You can't deny that weed is a whole lot better than Xanax.

Illustration By Pat Davis