ALBANY, NY – New York officially became the twenty-third state to effectively nullify the federal ban on medical marijuana after Gov. Cuomo signed historic legislation into law allowing for sick patients to access cannabis as a treatment option last Monday.

Program Bill 57 passed through the New York state legislature 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.

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.

“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, 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.

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. Still, it can be effective in providing relief for many gravely ill patients if the state of New York allows them to promptly access medical marijuana.

“Under this law, patients will benefit if the program is implemented effectively. We urge the Governor to move swiftly on implementation and to establish an emergency access provision for those patients with very serious or terminal conditions who have no time to spare.” New York Drug Policy Alliance State Director Gabriel Sayegh said in a July 7 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.


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!