Medical marijuana proponents in New York renew push for legalization – Cheryl Shuman

Medical marijuana proponents in New York renew push for legalization

The high-minded talk comes as the state is reeling from Hurricane Sandy bills — and as the pot industry has hired one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Albany to define the issue as a budding financial opportunity.


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2012, 8:33 PM
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 25:  Signage hangs outside +Doctor, a medical marijuana evaluation clinic, which does not distribute marijuana from its facility, is seen on July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously voted to ban storefront medical marijuana dispensaries and to order them to close or face legal action. The council also voted to instruct staff to draw up a separate ordinance for consideration in about three months that might allow dispensaries that existed before a 2007 moratorium on new dispensaries to continue to operate. It is estimated that Los Angeles has about one thousand such facilities. The ban does not prevent patients or cooperatives of two or three people to grow their own in small amounts. Californians voted to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996, clashing with federal drug laws. The state Supreme Court is expected to consider ruling on whether cities can regulate and ban dispensaries.    (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)


A medical marijuana evaluation clinic, which does not distribute marijuana from its facility, is seen on July 25 in Los Angeles.

ALBANY — Medical marijuana could blunt the pain of New York’s budget crunch.

Proponents of pot as a medicine have renewed their push for legalization, arguing that licensing fees and taxes could generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new revenues for the cash-strapped state.

“There is a huge amount of revenue here,” said state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) who hopes to make New York the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana.

The high-minded talk comes as the state is reeling from Hurricane Sandy bills — and as the pot industry has hired one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Albany to define the issue as a budding financial opportunity.

“It has real economic impact,” said Patrick McCarthy, of the firm Patricia Lynch Associates.

The firm controlled by Pat Lynch, a former top aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was hired by Colorado-based marijuana company, Gaia Plant Based Medicine, to press lawmakers and Gov. Cuomo.

But the governor has offered only toking opposition.

“I understand the benefits, but there are also risks, and I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point,” Cuomo said earlier this year, even as he warned that Hurricane Sandy could add $1 billion to the state’s budget deficit this year alone.

Cuomo said more research is needed to prove that legalizing medical marijuana will help people with problems such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, yet not increase drug abuse and criminal activity.

And the state’s influential Conservative Party called legalization of medical marijuana “a horrible idea.”

“It sends a wrong message to the youth of the state, and that’s more important than any amount of revenue the state would take in,” said party Chairman Mike Long.

The movement to legalize the once-demonized plant for medical use has spread like a weed in recent years.

The District of Columbia and 17 states have already legalized marijuana for medical purposes. In November, two states, Washington and Colorado, became the first to legalize pot for off-label — that is, recreational — use.



Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, in Los Angeles.

All medical marijuana states require the sick to obtain a prescription to maintain their healing buzz. Some require drug takers to pay an additional fee, as in the case of a hunting license.

After that, users can obtain the herb by buying it from licensed dispensaries or cultivating it themselves.

Despite its growing acceptance, medical marijuana remains controversial. Critics say that prescriptions are easy to obtain from the local “Dr. Feelgood,” and last week, a 7-year-old girl suffering from leukemia grabbed headlines for becoming one of Oregon’s youngest medical marijuana patients.

The girl’s mother, Erin Purchase, gives her daughter marijuana pills to fight the side effects of chemotherapy, but her father thinks the drug is making things worse.

When the dad called police, cops told him there was nothing they could do because the girl’s marijuana use is legal.

It’s too early to say whether medical pot laws in New York would establish an age limit.

For now, the push is on the legislature and the governor to draft and pass a bill.

It’s the humane thing to do, said Gabriel Sayegh, state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, who cited research that marijuana can effectively treat pain and other discomforts caused by cancer and other serious illnesses.

“If we saw Gov. Cuomo step into this, I think we’d see this thing move,” said Sayegh. “The time for this has long passed.”

It wouldn’t be the first time state lawmakers got the munchies for once-unthinkable revenue streams such as the state lottery and other forms of gambling.

If so, New York would join a growing number of states — including border states New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts — that are lighting up their coffers with ganja green.

The hiring of Lynch — whose firm has taken on many high-powered battles, including gay marriage — adds serious firepower to the battle.

Her client, Gaia, is pressing for the adoption of a “seed to sale” model in which state-sanctioned firms grow, distribute and sell herb to patients. The system, in place in Colorado, allows for start-to-finish tracking of the product and tight government regulation, McCarthy said.

“We have other states that have done it, so we have a lot to look at,” added Savino. “There’s no justification for saying ‘No’ anymore.”

With Ben Chapman

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About Cheryl Shuman

Tom Cruise, Steven Tyler, Julia Roberts, Madonna, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mike Myers, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Fergie, and Michael Jackson are just a few of the names you'll find scrolling through the client files during the 25 year career of Cheryl Shuman. Known as the "Martha Stewart of Marijuana," Cheryl Shuman announces the formation of Green Asset International Inc.. Shuman brings decades of experience working with media, celebrities, marketing and health care in Beverly Hills. Shuman found her passion in the cannabis movement since 1996 working as an activist and legal cannabis patient. Since using cannabis therapy, she has survived cancer and injuries from two car crashes. Shuman was the founder of Beverly Hills NORML, founding charter member of the NORML Women's Alliance and served on the steering committee for Public Relations and Marketing on an International platform. Cheryl Shuman is a founding member of the NCIA, National Cannabis Industry Association. Cheryl Shuman transformed her non-profit career into a thriving profitable media enterprise. Cheryl was the Executive Director of Celebrity, Media and Public Relations for the KUSH Brand which includes KUSH Magazine, KUSH Conventions and Cheryl Shuman has been interviewed for television programs, newspapers and magazines, including but not limited to: ABC News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Today Show NBC, HBO Entertainment News and more. Her private medical cannabis collective, "The Beverly Hills Cannabis Club" is unlisted and membership is by referral only. Through her personal relationships and connections within Hollywood, Cheryl Shuman has been named as one of the most influential women in the cannabis reform movement by international media. Her position within the cannabis industry creates the first and only company of its kind and at the forefront of entertainment marketing, celebrity endorsements, product placement integration, sponsorships, production and technology. Cheryl Shuman serves as media spokesperson for the hot new vaporizer CANNACig Rapid Fire Marketing (pink sheets: RFMK) and conducts their marketing, public relations, product placement, and consulting services. Cheryl Shuman, Inc. is a business development company and acquisition vehicle. Shuman made news with an historic funding facility dedicated to the cannabis industry with plans to go public by 2014. Cheryl Shuman currently has a hot new reality TV series in development and is represented by the prestigous William Morris Endeavor Agency in Beverly Hills, California. President & C.E.O. Spokesperson for CANNACig by RFMK Beverly Hills Cannabis Club Join Free Using "Cheryl Shuman" as your invitation code on: Social Network Links: LinkedIN: Facebook: Twitter: YouTube: Vimeo:
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