Cannabis and the New York Constitutional Convention

By: Troy Smit

(New York, NY) Empire State NORML would like to clarify some of the myths that we're hearing perpetuated about a ballot question appearing before the voters on November 7th.

On Election Day, New York voters will consider Ballot Proposal 1 (“Prop 1”) the question “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?”. Every 20 years, New Yorkers get to vote on whether or not to have a constitutional convention, which is one of the ways to amend our state Constitution. If Prop 1 is approved, a process begins of electing delegates, holding the convention and voting on proposed constitutional amendments and finally submitting amendments for voter approval in 2019 (a flowchart of the process is at  

It's come to our attention that people have been lead to believe that by voting yes on Prop 1, they’re voting to change the laws regarding cannabis, including legalizing its responsible adult use. This is simply untrue and a gross oversimplification of one of the possibilities of holding a constitutional convention. What is true is that if Prop 1 passes, the delegates elected next year will hold the tremendous power to amend our state's Constitution. It’s possible that the delegates could pass an amendment to authorize initiatives and referenda, or an amendment that taxes and regulates cannabis, as Colorado voters did in 2012.

The truth of the matter is that a yes vote for Prop 1 is a vote to hold a constitutional convention in New York. Nothing more, nothing less. 

NY: Bill To Allow Emergency Access to Medical Cannabis


New York: Allow Emergency Access to Medical Cannabis!

New York legislators have introduced a bill to require the Commissioner of Health to establish emergency access to medical cannabis programs and to provide medical cannabis for patients whose serious condition is progressive and degenerative or patients for whom a delay in access to medical cannabis would pose a serious risk to the patient's life or health, before the implementation of the State's medical cannabis program, which is not expected to be operational until January 2016 or later.


The Compassionate Care Act originally contained a provision to allow emergency access to medical cannabis in New Yrok, which was removed by Governor Cuomo in the negotiations leading to its passage.  Since then, three young girls have died from being denied expedited access to the medicine they needed and many families with children who need access to medical cannabis have left New York State.


Look up your senators contact information here and assemblymembers contact info here.

Below you will find a simple script to guide you through a call and a sample letter for you to email or mail. Call to Senator/Assemblymember's office:

Hello, I am a constituent of the [Senator OR Assemblymember] and  my name is [Your Name] and I live at [Your Address or zip-code] and I would like to leave a message for the [Senator OR Assemblymember].

I would like to urge they support Senate Bill 5086 and Assembly Bill 7060, which would require the Commissioner of Health to establish a program to provide emergency access to medical cannabis for patients who can't wait for a robust program to be operational.

Thank you for your time, have a nice day.


You can use this text, or modify as you see fit, and mail / email it to them to show your support for the sick and dying patients in this state by allowing emergency access to medical cannabis.


Letter to Senator/Assemblymember text:


Allow New Yorkers with Progressive and Degenerative Serious Conditions Emergency Access to Marijuana



Dear Honorable [Senator OR Assemblymember] [Rep's Last Name here]

I'm urging you to support Senate Bill 5086 and Assembly Bill 7060, which would require the Commissioner of Health to establish a program to provide emergency access to medical cannabis for patients whose serious condition is progressive and degenerative or for whom delay in the patient's certified medical use of cannabis poses a serious risk to the patient's life or health, before the implementation of the State's medical marijuana program, which is not expected to be operational until January 2016 or later.

The Compassionate Care Act originally contained an emergency access provision, which was removed by Governor Cuomo and Senator Skelos in the negotiations leading to its passage.  Since then, three young girls have died from not being able to access the medicine they needed.

Whether or not you supported the Compassionate Care Act, I encourage you to support Senate Bill 5086 and Assembly Bill 7060, because the most critically ill New Yorkers can’t wait until next year for their medicine.

Best Wishes, [Your Name Here] [Your Address/Zip code here]

Action Alert: NY Emergency Access bill Assembly health committee vote for emergency access to medicinal cannabis [4/28/15]


Action Alert for the NY Emergency Access bill

Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried's NY Emergency Access bill to create an emergency access program for patients with the most urgent needs is getting voted on by Assembly Health Committee TODAY. let's get it passed and force the Senate and Gov. Cuomo to act!

How to help:

1. Call Speaker Carl Heastie at (518) 455-4800 and ask him to bring the NY Emergency Access bill to a floor vote as soon as possible.

2. Call your Assembly member (if you don't know who that is, go to at his or her Albany office and ask him or her to support A. 7060, the emergency medical marihuana program bill;

Sample Script: Please note - You will get a live person when calling within normal business hours. " Hi, My name is _______ ______, I am a NYS Resident.

I would like to leave a message for Speaker Heastie and my support for A. 7060, a bill to provide Emergency Access to medical marijuana.

I want to urge the speaker to support the NY Emergency Access bill and bring it to the floor for a full vote. Thank you for your time, have a nice day!"

Remember: Be polite, care and share!


HTSA Report Shows Drivers Safer Stoned Than Drunk

NHTSA Report Shows Drivers Safer Stoned Than Drunk.

By: Jay Tiftickjian. Guest Writer & Attorney.



Drivers who have been drinking alcohol have a greater chance of being in an accident than drivers who have been smoking marijuana. Safe driving is essential for our communities, and no one wants dangerous drivers to get behind the wheel, but there is minimal evidence to say that getting stoned makes you more dangerous. Drivers  Safer Stoned Than Drunk.

Several recent studies are confirming that driving under the influence of marijuana is much safer than driving after you have been consuming alcohol. A drunk driver can be four more times likely to crash their car. However a stoned driver may only be five percent more likely to crash-when age and gender factors are taken into consideration.  Cannabis users who get behind the wheel are unfairly targeted for their lifestyle when there is only minimal evidence that driving while stoned actually puts them or others at risk. Police should be targeting genuine causes of traffic incidents and working to reduce the problems that are more likely to lead to injury or death.

The current laws in Colorado dictate that if you have a certain amount of THC in your blood, than you are a dangerous driver. However two recent studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that this does not provide an accurate indication of the driver’s level of impairment. An individual with THC in their blood may or may not be more dangerous than the average driver, yet this THC level is used to identify an impaired driver.


Tackling the causes of traffic accidents is important for our country, however it needs to be done using accurate scientific rationale. The current practices have no correlation with science and are unfairly discriminatory towards users of cannabis who are causing little to no level of harm on our roads. Alcohol has been proven to be detrimental to people who consume it and then get behind the wheel. There is no doubt that this is a concern to our society; however the same concern does not apply to users of cannabis.


Accurate tests need to be introduced, if laws are going to continue to target drug users. If the presence of THC in your blood is not an accurate measure of driver impairment, as proven by scientific studies, a new strategy needs to be introduced. The current practices penalize marijuana users for no adequate reason, waste tax payers’ dollars, and are not working to create a safer environment on our roads.


Anyone who has been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should contact a criminal defense/DUI attorney as soon as possible to retain legal representation. Drivers Safer Stoned Than Drunk.



Editors Note: This does not constitute as legal advice and Empire State NORML does not condone the operating any vehicle under the influence of any substance. The author of  'Drivers Safer Stoned Than Drunk' is a guest writer working in CO and not directly affiliated with the chapter. Jay Tiftickjian the guest writer of ' Drivers Safer Stoned Than Drunk'. He is a trial lawyer, author, and legal analyst. One of the Colorado’s top DUI defense attorneys, Tiftickjian has received extensive training in DUI techniques and has been called upon multiple times to organize Colorado Criminal Defense Bar seminars specialized to DUI Defense. Tiftickjian is an elected member of the board for the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. He has also been named Barrister’s Best DUI lawyer in 2012 and 2013 as well as People’s Choice - Best DUI Lawyer in 2013 and 2014. Author of several authoritative books, including “Colorado DUI Defense: The Law and Practice,” “Facing a DUI Charge in Colorado: What You Need to Know,” and the “Colorado DUI Defense Manual,”. Tiftickjian’s works are widely used and consulted by practitioners.

Jay Tiftickjian article.: Drivers Safer Stoned Than Drunk.

 Drivers Safer Stoned Than Drunk.

 Drivers Safer Stoned Than Drunk.



Public Comments on Proposed Rule Making - Medical Use of Cannabis


Proposed Rule Making - Medical Use of Cannabis

Below you will find the Public Comments on Proposed Rule Making - Medical Use of Cannabis submitted to the NYS Department of Health.




To: Ms. Katherine Ceroalo, Bureau of House Counsel, Regulatory Affairs Unit, New York State Department of Health From: Doug Greene, Legislative Director, Empire State NORML, David C. Holland, Esq., Executive and Legal Director, Empire State NORML, Troy Smit, Executive Director, NORML Long Island, Board Member, Empire State NORML

Date: February 17, 2015 Re: Proposed Rule Making for Medical Use of Cannabis, I.D. No. HLT-52-14-0013-P


Proposed regulation: Section 80-1.2(a)(8) requires that a practitioner’s certification be limited solely to the specific severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions defined in subdivision seven of § 3360 of the public health law, which are listed therein, or any other condition added by the commissioner.

Comment: The specific severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions (the “Qualifying Conditions”) listed therein represent a small subset of the conditions for which cannabis has been shown to be safe and effective for. We believe that there was little input from health experts on the final list of Qualifying Conditions. The department should promulgate regulations establishing a medical expert review process for adding and deleting Qualifying Conditions. Proposed regulation: Section 80-1.3(d)(4) provides that an application for a registry identification card shall include a nonrefundable application fee of fifty dollars; provided, however, that the department may waive or reduce the fee in cases of financial hardship as determined by the department. Comment: The department should set explicit standards for financial hardship, such as eligibility for various federal means tested programs, i.e. the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), nonemergency Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). See also Colorado’s rules specifying income criteria for an indigence fee waiver. Proposed Regulation: Section 80-1.4 provides that caregivers designated to handle approved medical marihuana products on behalf of certified patients are required to register with the department according to the procedures detailed in this section and to obtain a registry identification card.

Comment: To provide and expedite emergency access to medical cannabis, and prevent further loss of life, caregivers whose patients are not within a set distance of a RO dispensing facility should be legally allowed to purchase, transport or cultivate medical marijuana in limited quantities for their patients legally as long as they are registered with the State, as they do in Massachusetts and Arizona. Pursuant to proposed § 80-1.11(g), medical marihuana products will be strictly limited to highly processed and costly forms of administration.  Therefore, the department should also consider the willingness of applicants to dispense medical marihuana products to certified patients on a sliding scale or for free.  See, for example, regulations implementing the District of Columbia’s sliding scale program and Massachusetts’ requirement that registered marijuana dispensaries must have a program to provide reduced cost or free marijuana to patients with documented verified financial hardship. Proposed Regulation: Section 80-1.11(c)(1) provides that each registered organization may initially produce up to five brands of medical marihuana product with prior approval of the department. These brands may be produced in multiple forms as approved by the commissioner. Thereafter, additional brands may be approved by the department. However, in no case shall marihuana in unprocessed whole flower form be made available to certified patients. Comment: Not allowing certified patients to access cannabis in its natural unprocessed form is unique to New York and Minnesota. Cannabis has never been listed as a primary cause of death in mortality statistics. By prohibiting access to whole plant cannabis, there are likely to be certified patients with qualifying conditions that will be unable to fully benefit from the medical marihuana products permitted under the proposed regulations. The synergistic effects of whole plant medicine have been well documented over the years.  The department should allow dispensing facilities to supply certified patients with whole plant cannabis for vaporization. Furthermore, placing a limit upon how many brands a registered organization may initially produce will reduce the public health benefits of the program. Practitioners’ abilities to help a certified patient determine the brand that best treats their qualifying condition would be maximized by lifting this cap, which will restrict patients from being able to find the brand that’s best suited to treat their qualifying condition.  NJ initially limited each ATC to three strains of low, medium and high potency, but those restrictions were repealed in September 2013. Proposed regulation: Section 80.1-16 relates to the marketing and advertising of registered organizations. It seeks to limit the time, place and manner in which such advertising and marketing of a registered organization is permitted. Comment: The restrictions far exceed the constitutionally permissible regulation of commercial speech under time, place and manner restrictions and force registered organizations to incur restrictions that are not imposed on pharmacies or other facilities that market medicines in general or for specific afflictions.  The limitation of only one public visible signage, limited to black and white print, and the proscription of using any language or art that promotes medical marijuana in that signage is not a proper basis to prohibit commercial speech.  Further, the requirement that there be no promotion of a particular strain or brand for a the treatment of a particular symptom is unduly restrictive as the limitations on the number of strains that may be carried requires selectivity in the types that can address various symptomologies.  Last, the requirement that any claim of effectiveness be fair and balanced and supported only by demonstrable medical research and reports that are widely accepted in the medical profession are unduly burdensome. The medical profession has been deprived of meaningful opportunities to conduct mass scale research and the number of scientific reports that delve into the effectiveness of marijuana are scant and not widely accepted because the medical profession has been limited in such research due to the continuing Schedule I status of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. The better approach would be to allow advertising in line with that permitted by other purveyors of medical products; permit promotion of strain effectiveness based upon anecdotal information known to the vendor; and the ability to rely upon research that is founded upon accepted medical methodologies regardless of whether the particular theory promoted has been widely accepted in the medical community.