Jan 5    Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, by proposing a highly restrictive medical marijuana law, scored a big p.r. success —the lead column of the New York Times, with a mug shot of his chiseled visage above the fold and a highly supportive quote from Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Cuomo’s plan, according to the Times piece by Susanne Craig and Jesse McKinley, “will allow just 20 hospitals across the state to prescribe marijuana to patients with cancer, glaucoma or other diseases that meet standards to be set by the New York State Department of Health.”

Nadelmann reassured the reporters that Cuomo “remains committed to developing the best medical marijuana law in the country. And that’s going to require legislative action.” 

California is held up as an example of what New York seeks to avoid. (I wish I’d been keeping a file of quotes from politicians who dissed California as they agreed to timid reforms in Maryland, New Jersey, et al.)  The Times says that Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D., Manhattan) has been pushing for

“a tightly regulated and licensed market, with eligible patients limited to those with ‘severe, life-threatening or debilitating conditions,’ not the broader range of ailments —backaches and anxiety, for instance— that pass muster in places like California, which legalized marijuana in 1996.

“‘What we are looking at bears no resemblance to the California system,’ Mr. Gottfried said.”

In 1996 California voters created Prop 15, which applies to “any… condition for which marijuana provides relief.”  Those seven words are what the pseudo-reformers can’t abide. Did Craig and McKinley ask Gottfried why marijuana should not be available to treat backaches and anxiety?  Of course not. Their role is to process the press statement that the assemblyman put out. 

Gottfriend and other self-styled reform advocates should stop their tsk-tsking and show some respect for California. Who brought y’all to the dance, anyway?

—East Bay Fred