New York State AIDS Advisory Council Endorses Medical Marijuana Bill
The New York State AIDS Advisory Council earlier this month voted 8-2 with one abstention to endorse a state Assembly bill (A 5796) that would allow individuals to use marijuana if it is prescribed by a doctor, the Albany Times Union reports. The council, which advises the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, comprises 17 unpaid members. Of the members, nine are appointed by the governor, three are appointed by each of the Assembly and Senate majority leaders and one is appointed by each of the minority leaders, according to the Times Union. Most of the current council was appointed by Gov. George Pataki (R), who does not support the use of medical marijuana. Jeffrey Reynolds, vice president for public affairs at the Long Island Association for AIDS Care and a council member appointed by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R), said that the council's decision to endorse the bill was a "no-brainer," adding, "People with late-stage HIV infection need this [bill]. And in many cases, they're (smoking) anyway, in nonregulated and unsafe ways." Opponents of the bill say there is not enough medical evidence to conclude that smoking marijuana helps alleviate symptoms for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Times Union. However, Reynolds said, "AIDS treatment has always been about trying new things. Anything we can do to make people more comfortable, we should be doing" (Benjamin et al., Albany Times Union, 11/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.