New York’s Compassionate Care Act Suffers A Setback

Disappointing news from New York’s Senate this week as Senator John DeFrancisco, New York’s Senate Finance Committee chairman, stated that he will not allow the Compassionate Care Act to be put to a vote in the Senate Finance Committee in time for passage during this legislative session.

Senator DeFrancisco’s stated reasons for refusing to allow for a vote on the Compassionate Care Act focused on the “unknown dangers” of medical marijuana:

The Savino bill will not come out of my committee, the Finance Committee. You don’t have any kind of reasonable research on the effects. You have people coming in here everyday trying to ban e-cigarettes and use tobacco in other ways.

Senator DeFrancisco failed to explain the connection between the Compassionate Care Act and e-cigarettes. He did, however, indicate his preference for Governor Cuomo’s proposed executive action that would allow very limited distribution of medical marijuana through selected hospitals with concurrent testing:

There has been no test studies done as to the adverse effects of smoking marijuana because every other drug I know of is approved through an FDA process, and the governor has an alternative, namely doing research and determining whether the beneficial effects, if any, are sufficient to outweigh the negative effects.

Coincidentally, Governor Cuomo also made a statement yesterday, in which he indicated some version of support for the Compassionate Care Act, but only if it “makes sense,” saying “Obviously, I support the overall effort, that’s why we’re doing it already. If they have a piece of legislation and the legislation makes sense, then I would sign it because I support the overall effort.”

Both Senator DeFrancisco and Governor Cuomo specifically highlighted the potential use of cannabis-infused oils for treatment, with Senator DeFrancisco specifically referring to THC infused oil as a treatment for children with epileptic seizures. Senator DeFrancisco’s and Governor Cuomo’s respective denunciations of the Compassionate Care Act (and we do interpret Governor Cuomo’s statement to indicate that he would not sign the bill in its current form) are frustrating.

Despite his protestations, Senator DeFrancisco did not expand upon any of the alleged negative repercussions that would result from the passage of the Compassionate Care Act.

This unfortunate New York news is not a final death knell for passage of the Compassionate Care Act during this legislative session as it is still possible that the bill will be presented straight to the Senate Rules Committee before a full vote, and proponents of the bill are continuing to push for passage this session. Still, it’s hard to find a silver lining in this recent news.