The State Assembly's Health Committee has scheduled hearings today on legislation that would legalize the medical use of marijuana for patients with debilitating or life-threatening conditions.
It's the second hearing this month on the issue. Lawmakers are considering a "tightly regulated and controlled" medical marijuana system where health care professionals licensed to prescribe controlled substances could certify whether a patient receives the treatment.
Dr. Timothy Wiegand, head of Toxicology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says more research is needed on the efficacy of marijuana for medical use. Dr. Wiegand says many existing studies are incomplete. "There may not be control groups, they're based on self reports, the patient population is experienced cannabis users. That said, there is some favorable research, particularly in cancer, looking at nausea, anorexia or some side effects from treatment or medications used to treat side effects."
A Siena Research poll this year found that 82 percent of new Yorkers support allowing seriously and terminally ill people to use marijuana for medical purposes if recommended by a doctor.
20 states and the District of Columbia currently allow the practice.