Press Release  | 02/24/2014

Republican Support for Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill Continues to Grow

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Republican State Senator, Joe Robach, and Former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato, Announce Support for Compassionate Care Act

Patients, Families, Doctors, Advocates: No More Delays, It’s Time for the State Senate to Vote

NEW YORK: Today, in meeting with the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, Senator Joseph Robach  (R, C, IP – Rochester) stated his support for the Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would allow New Yorkers with serious and debilitating conditions to access to medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.  Senator Robach is the third senate Republican to announce his support for the Compassionate Care Act. Last week, two Western Region Republicans -- State Senator George Maziarz (R - Newfane) and State Senator Mark Grisanti (R, IP - Buffalo) – declared their support and called for a vote.

The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester has worked tirelessly to secure support for the Compassionate Care Act and released a statement today with comments by its leaders and members applauding the Senator’s leadership in supporting a comprehensive legislative solution to help seriously ill New Yorkers. Caregivers and patients also applauded the Senator’s support.

“As a constituent and a mother of child with a severe seizure disorder that would be alleviated by the use of medical marijuana, I am thrilled that Senator Robach stated his support for the Compassionate Care Act.  Too many seriously ill New Yorkers, including my daughter Julia have suffered long enough,” said Christine Emerson of Rochester. “Now, it’s time for the rest of the senate to stand up for compassion, join Senators Robach, Maziarz and Grisanti, and pass this bill now.”

The Compassionate Care Act has passed the Assembly four times, and Governor Cuomo’s administration has said the governor would sign it, but the legislation has long been stuck in the Senate. In recent weeks, support for the legislation has been growing as more and more Republicans announce their support and more and more organizations endorse the measure.

Today, Us TOO Rochester NY, a peer networking group for men concerned about prostate cancer in Rochester & The Finger Lakes Region of WNY, announced their endorsement of the Compassionate Care  Act, joining over 60 organizations who support the bill.

“With the announcement of support for the compassionate care act from Senators Robach, Grisanti and Maziarz, I am seeing the light for a day when seriously ill New Yorkers are no longer denied access to medical marijuana that could greatly improve their quality of life,” said Susan Rusinko, an Auburn mother who is living with multiple sclerosis. “I hope that Senator Klein and Senator Skelos will continue this act of courageous leadership and bring the Compassionate Care Act to a vote on the senate floor.”

Support for medical marijuana spans the political divide. Recent national polls show that a majority of Americans – right, left, and center and in every region of the country -- support allowing patients to access marijuana under medical supervision. In New York, a recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 88% of New York voters support medical marijuana, including over 80% of Republicans and Democrats.

Former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato, long an opponent of medical marijuana, stated his new position of support for the Compassionate Care Act in an op-ed that appeared in this weekend’s Long Island Herald.  D’Amato wrote: “But times are changing, and marijuana has become a viable form of alternative medicine for those suffering from many debilitating diseases such as ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer and others. When traditional medicines fail to offer relief, why not give patients alternatives?... I believe our legislators should consider supporting Cuomo’s Compassionate Care Act, a bill that is currently before both houses of the State Legislature.”

“Compassion is a bipartisan issue, and we applaud Senator Robach. Senator Maziarz, Senator Grisanti  and former Senator D’Amato for supporting for the Compassionate Care Act,” said gabriel sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Momentum is definitely building for this comprehensive bill. There is no longer any dispute that when a vote is taken, the Compassionate Care Act will pass with strong bipartisan support. It’s time for Senate Co-Presidents Klein and Skelos to let the bill come to the floor for a vote.  Lives of New Yorkers are hanging in the balance.”

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

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