New York Legislature votes to Nullify Federal Medical Marijuana Ban

ALBANY, NY – The New York state legislature has passed a bill to partially nullify the federal ban on marijuana. With Gov. Cuomo signaling that he will sign the bill, New York will become the 23rd state to enact such a measure.Program Bill 57 passed on Jun. 20. The law allows doctors to prescribed medical marijuana to people with cancer, HIV, ALS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord injuries, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease under specific conditions.

The federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic and attempts to prohibit it for any purpose. Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey says this clearly violates the Constitution.

“The Constitution delegates no power to the federal government to prohibit marijuana in the states. This power remains with the state governments and the people. Doubt me? Then ask yourself why it required a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. There is no fundamental difference,” Maharrey said.

New York now joins nearly half of the states in the Union rejecting the federal prohibition. As more states take marijuana policy into their own hands, defying the federal prohibition, the federal government has become increasingly incapable of enforcing its unconstitutional prohibition. They simply lack the resources to stop the tidal wave. For those concerned about the health care and personal choices of people living in New York, this couldn’t come too soon.

A previous bill, (A06357), was rejected by Gov. Cuomo because it allowed for freer access to medical marijuana. Program Bill 57 creates a tighter state regulatory system than the bill Cuomo rejected.

“This bill is far from perfect. Many of the limitations in this bill – like the restrictions on conditions and physician-patient relationships- are unnecessary and not supported by the science. And we know that overly restrictive medical marijuana programs leave patients behind. But if implemented quickly and effectively, this program will help thousands of sick and suffering New Yorkers, who need help now,” the New York Director of the Drug Policy Alliance Gabriel Sayegh said in a Jun. 20 press release.

Although Program Bill 57 was not as strong as activists hoped it would be, it still marks a huge victory for medical marijuana supporters and advocates of decentralized government. It signals that the public is ready to throw off the shackles of ‘federal supremacy’ and take lawmaking into their own hands.

“The last time half the states took action to nullify the federal government was in response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850,” said Maharrey. “This is historic.”

Medical marijuana is an incredibly important issue pertaining to nullification and states rights. Because it is so overwhelmingly popular (archived link), medical marijuana can act as a metaphorical ‘gateway drug’ to the idea of state and local resistance to onerous federal laws. With this issue, it is possible to show the residents of your state that local control better serves the needs of the people than the top-down federal approach that has failed for so many decades.


For Other States: Find out if your state is working to nullify marijuana prohibition by clicking HERE. Then contact your legislators and demand that they support or introduce legislation to legalize it in your state!

About Tenth Amendment Center
The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. For more information visit the Tenth Amendment Center Blog.

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