Press Release  | 12/17/2013

December 18th: Assembly Health Committee to Hold Hearings On Long Island on Medical Marijuana in Advance of 2014 Legislative Session

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NY Patients, Families Will Join Medical Experts in Calling on Legislature to Take Immediate Action to Pass

Mineola – On Wednesday, December 18th, dozens of patients living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe seizure disorders, and other serious, debilitating medical conditions will gather in Mineola for hearing of the NY State Assembly Health Committee about the Compassionate Care Act -- A.6357-A(Gottfried) / S.4406-A (Savino). The Compassionate Care Act would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs, allowing seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

What:  New York State Assembly Health Committee Hearing on the Compassionate Care Act, New York’s Medical Marijuana Bill

When:  Wednesday, December 18th at 10 AM

Location:

Nassau County Legislative Chambers
Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building
1550 Franklin Avenue
Mineola, NY

Who (dozens of patient and providers, including):

  • Missy Miller, a Long Island parent whose child suffers from a severe seizure disorder
  • Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, physician, researcher, and co-chair of NY Physicians for Compassionate Care
  • Paige Figi, mother whose child with Dravet’s syndrome is being successfully treated with medical cannabis in Colorado and was profiled in Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary, Weed
  • Janet Weinberg, cancer patient and Interim Executive Director of GMHC
  • Howard Josepher, LCSW, President, Exponents
  • gabriel sayegh, Drug Policy Alliance

At a similar hearing Buffalo early this month, over a hundred supporters turned out to share compelling personal stories and urge the legislature to pass the bill. In May, the Assembly passed the bill but it was never taken up for a vote in the Senate.  Patients and healthcare providers gathering in Long Island hope that legislators will take up the issue when they return to Albany in January.

Physicians in every state bordering New York – except Pennsylvania – have the ability to recommend this effective and safe treatment for their patients. Twenty states and the District Columbia have passed laws creating legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients, and New Jersey recently expanded its medical marijuana program to cover children, who suffer from severe seizure disorders.

Long Island Patients Available for Interviews:

Pam Chait-Ross, Baldwin

Pam Chait-Ross is a mother of two, Ben and Maya, living in Baldwin, New York. For approximately 16 years she has lived with an MS diagnosis, although she believes she felt the affects of the illness years prior to her diagnosis. MS for Pam means that she struggles with mobility issues, pain, fatigue and spasticity, where her muscles contract and tense into concrete stiffness. Although her health can sometimes get in the way, she is determined to play an active role in the lives of her children and family, working full-time as a stay-at-home mom. She takes several medications to help treat and control the symptoms of her illness and would like medical marijuana to be an option for her and others with MS. She believes that all seriously ill New Yorkers deserve access to medical marijuana as another tool in an arsenal of treatments that can vastly improve their quality of life. She supports the Compassionate Care Act because she feels that sick and disabled people should not be treated as criminals for doing what they can to care for themselves.

Missy Miller, Atlantic Beach

Missy is the mother of 3 children. Her oldest child, Melanie had a neurodegenerative disease that caused numerous neurological problems, including seizures that did not respond to traditional medications.. She died when she was 7 years old. Her 14-year-old son, Oliver, suffered a stroke in utero and as a result has a brain stem injury that caused blindness and has left him having hundreds of seizures a day. No treatment that the family has tried has had any lasting benefit. They would like to try medical marijuana for their son, having learned that, in states where it is legal, children with seizures are being helped. Her son Oliver, is not allowed access to this treatment simply because in NY state it is not legal to allow sick people to use medicinal marijuana. She is in the process of figuring out how to relocate her family to California to save her son’s life.

Geri Barish, Baldwin, NY

Geri Barish is a cancer survivor and a mother to a teenage son who lost his life to cancer far too young. She witnessed first-hand how marijuana that his friends purchased for him illegally brought him relief in his final days. During that time, she would have done whatever possible to alleviate the pain that tore apart her child. She believes that anyone who has watched a loved one suffer wants to do whatever they can to alleviate their pain, and medical marijuana should be one option available to do so. She supports the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would allow severely ill and disabled New Yorkers to have access to medical marijuana, under the supervision of a healthcare provider, to help improve their quality of life or treat their symptoms. Like thousands of other New Yorkers, she is urging New York State legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act in 2014 to help sick and suffering New Yorkers.

Contact:  Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264

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