New York State Assembly Moves to Seal Cannabis Convictions, Expand Medical Marijuana Access

The first of these bills would add opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s limited medical marijuana program. The second bill would clear minor cannabis convictions for anyone busted for smoking up in public.

Last Wednesday, the State Assembly approved a bill to allow opioid addicts access to medical cannabis treatments. “The treatment experts should have this in their tool box.” O’Donnell noted that medical cannabis can treat several symptoms of withdrawal, including nausea and anxiety, as well as ameliorate chronic pain symptoms without the side effects of opioids.

The bill will now move on to the state Senate, where its chances of success are less likely. Savino added that the opioid bill might be absorbed into “a bigger, better bill” that would also increase the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in the state. An estimated 800,000 New Yorkers have been arrested for minor pot possession, leaving each of these individuals with criminal records that can block employment, education, and housing opportunities.

Despite its reputation as one of the most liberal-leaning states, New York politicians have remained conservative with respect to cannabis laws. The Marijuana Sealing Act has passed the state Assembly three times now, but the state Senate has struck it down every time. While the Empire State has been slow to embrace marijuana reform, next year might look much different.

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