Medical marijuana hearings to be held in NY state in December

November 24, 2013 by  
Filed under 420 news, General News

Syracuse, N.Y. — Democratic lawmakers plan to hold public hearings in Buffalo and Mineola next month on legalizing marijuana for treating medical conditions.

The hearings are part of an ongoing push by certain lawmakers in Albany to sanction marijuana cultivation, sales and use for certain diagnoses like cancer and other debilitating or life-threatening diseases. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have established some form of legalization for medical marijuana.

In New York, the Democratically-controlled state Assembly has passed a version of the legalization in past years. The Senate, run mostly by more conservative members in recent years, has yet to take up the issue for a vote.

Those dynamics have shifted ever-so-slightly, especially now that Senate Republicans share control of the upper house with a small group of independent Democrats. One of those Democrats, Sen. Diane Savino, of Staten Island, is a key supporter of legalizing marijuana for medical use.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat and the former top law enforcement official for the state, has not embraced legalization of marijuana for health issues. He has left the door open for talks.

A bill proposed by Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan would regulate the dispensing and sales of marijuana.

Under the proposal, practitioners licensed to prescribe controlled substances could certify patient need for marijuana. Then those certified patients would register with the state’s Department of Health. Both the certification process and dispensing of medical marijuana would be a part of a newly enacted statewide prescription monitoring system, meant to crackdown on abuse of controlled substances.
The Savino/Gottfried bill would empower the Health Department to license and regulate “registered organizations” to produce and dispense medical marijuana for certified patients. These organizations could be hospitals, pharmacies, or other for-profit businesses or not-for-profit corporations; they would also be required to comply with detailed “seed to sale” security controls and regulations. A clinical advisory committee made up predominately of health care professionals would advise the Health Commissioner on clinical matters.

The hearings are sponsored by the New York State Assembly. They are scheduled for 10 a.m., Dec. 5, Buffalo City Hall; and 10 a.m., Dec. 18, Nassau County Legislative Chambers.

People testifying at the hearing will be by invitation only. If you wish to be invited to testify in person, please email your request to Elizabeth Hamlin-Berninger, before Dec. 2. Written testimony may be submitted by anyone.

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Will upstate NY cops, sheriffs enforce gun control laws?

August 14, 2013 by  
Filed under General News


New York’s tough gun law, known as the SAFE Act, was pushed through last January by Governor Andrew Cuomo, winning support from the Democratic Assembly and the Republican-controlled Senate.
Over the last six months, however, political opposition to the law has grown, especially in upstate counties where gun ownership is popular. A growing number of law enforcement officials, especially county sheriffs, now say they’re deeply troubled by the law, which bans assault rifles and large ammunition clips. Some officers say they won’t actively enforce the SAFE Act.           

I don’t want to see a citizen revolt [over gun control] because that’s going to create more violence.

Sheriff David Favro sits in a conference room at the Clinton County Jail – which serves as his department’s headquarters – and makes it clear that he thinks the New York SAFE Act needs to go.


“The SAFE Act has been a train wreck since it started,” he says.

The SAFE Act, passed earlier this year on a bipartisan vote and signed by Governor Cuomo, established some of the toughest gun control laws in the US.

Governor Cuomo signs the SAFE Act. Photo: Karen DeWitt

Governor Cuomo signs the SAFE Act. Photo: Karen DeWitt

It passed following the deadly mass shooting last December in Connecticut which left 28 people dead, including many children.


The law sharply restricts sales of assault rifles, limits the number of rounds carried in ammunition clips, and regulates the sale of ammunition.

That’s deeply controversial for many gun owners. Sitting next to Favro in Plattsburgh is gun rights activist Richard Mack, himself a former sheriff from Arizona.

Mack is here in Plattsburgh for a gun rights rally – and his message to law enforcement officials like Favro is simple. The SAFE Act, he says, shouldn’t be enforced.

“People who own guns who are law-abiding citizens are going to get very frustrated with this law. Will that create more violence and more problems, I think between government and citizens it has that potential. I hope not.”

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NY law schools inflate job figures: critics

March 13, 2012 by  
Filed under General News

By CHRISTINE PARKER   Last Updated: 10:00 AM, March 11, 2012   Posted: 4:51 AM, March 11, 2012

Deciding on a law school is a numbers game: cost versus reward.   The stick is $150,000+ for studies, but the carrot is a great-paying job. But maybe not, according to recent graduates from the city’s elite law schools, who relied on job placement after getting their sheepskins.   Critics of local law schools say Columbia, NYU and Fordham overpromise the economic benefit of a degree, inflating the number of students who find employment after graduation — and how much those jobs pay.

“My life will be fairly uncomfortable for the next several decades,” said a third-year Columbia Law School student who borrowed $170,000 to attend and ended up with a job in which he will earn between $50,000 and $60,000.


Jena Cumbo   Mounting student loan debt for very little oppertunity was a rallying cry at the Occupy Wall Street protests. This week, the New York Fed said that $85 billion or 10 percent student deby is delinquent.


“But when you look at how big a bite $170,000 takes out of you, even over 25 years, it’s really going to sting. . . . Was it worth it? The answer is no,” he said.   The student estimated that roughly 35 percent of his class are in a similar position in terms of the salaries they are expecting — a disappointment compared to the glowing portrait of employment opportunity and affluence with which the school had presented them.

After an inquiry by The Post, Columbia Law School last week published a spate of new data detailing its employment rate, which dropped from a previously reported National Association for Law Placement’s 98.6 percent level to 96.5 percent.

The new data include information such as the number of jobs that require bar admission, the percentage of students reporting salary information, and the fact that all the jobs reported are full time, specifications that schools are now required to report to the American Bar Association, and which have become standard to share online.   But the new numbers quickly raised questions among legal scholars. Paul Campos, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School, pointed to discrepancies between the number of students reported by Columbia to have gotten big-law jobs — employment at a large firm with a salary of $150,000 a year on average — and those counted in a corresponding report by the National Law Journal (NLJ).

“According to Columbia, somewhere between 285 and 298 of its 2010 graduates were working for the top NLJ 250 firms. NLJ 250 firms reported only 239 2010 Columbia grads working for such firms. This is not, needless to say, a trivial discrepancy,” he posted on his blog. Campos approximated a similar difference in the case of NYU.

Noticeably missing from Columbia’s numbers is a breakdown of school-funded jobs — a red flag, as other schools have been called out for creating short-term jobs to temporarily boost the percentage of students employed for the ABA survey, which counts the employment figure nine months after graduation.

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RFK son arrested in NY hospital maternity unit clash, police say

February 25, 2012 by  
Filed under General News

By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz,

The son of Robert F. Kennedy has been charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly clashing with two nurses who tried to stop him from taking his 2-day-old baby boy from a Westchester maternity unit, NBC New York has learned.

According to a Mount Kisco, N.Y. police report obtained by NBC New York, Douglas Kennedy, 44, took his baby from the newborn unit of Northern Westchester Hospital on Jan. 7, against the instructions of hospital staff who told him the infant needed to stay there. He faces misdemeanor charges.

Kennedy and his wife, Molly, who was in the hospital to recover from a cesarean section, disputed the accusations in a statement to NBC New York, saying “these allegations are absurd.”

The nurse in charge of the unit, Anna Margaret Lane, said in a deposition that Kennedy wanted to take the child “to get fresh air” that evening. As he tried to leave, he was accompanied by a doctor from the hospital’s emergency room, identified in court papers as “Dr. Haydock,” later determined to be Dr. Timothy Haydock, a longtime family friend.

Read the original story and see security video at

While the nursing staff sought to get Kennedy to return the baby to his bassinet, Haydock reportedly encouraged Kennedy to walk with the baby by telling nurses that he was with him, according to Lane’s deposition.

Kennedy ignored the pleas of the nursing staff and carried the newborn — identified in court papers as “B.K.” — to the elevator, police said.  As the nursing staff tried to calm him and dissuade him from leaving the hospital, Kennedy turned and walked toward a stairwell leading to the outside of the hospital.

Lane blocked the doorway, “placing both hands on the doorknob” to prevent Kennedy from leaving, police said. Kennedy grabbed the nurse by her left wrist and twisted it to that he could pass into the stairwell, police said.

The baby’s head “began to move from side to side, and in an attempt to stabilize the baby’s head, nurse Cari Maleman Luciano reached toward the infant’s head,” police said.

“Instinctively as a nurse, I raised both my arms toward the neck of the baby to steady the violent shaking of the baby’s head and neck,” Luciano told investigators in a deposition.

While holding the child in his right arm, Kennedy kicked Luciano in the pelvis with his right foot, knocking her backward onto the floor, police said.

As he did this, Kennedy fell onto the floor with the baby in his arms. Kennedy then got up and ran “down the stairs with the infant until he was stopped by security and escorted back to the infant’s room,” the police report said.

The police report did not say whether the infant was harmed but Kennedy’s lawyer told NBC New York the baby was not injured and slept during the altercation.

The statement to NBC New York from Kennedy and his wife said there was no crime committed.

“The nurse had no right to attempt to grab our child out of his father’s arms and I, Douglas, was shocked and appalled when she did so,” the statement said.

Haydock said in a statement to NBC New York that Kennedy, whom he has known for more than 40 years, was not putting his healthy baby at risk by seeking to take him for a walk outside.

“I witnessed the incident and I can state unequivocally that the nurses were the only aggressors,” he said. “To charge Mr. Kennedy with a crime is simply incomprehensible to me.”

Kennedy attorney Robert Gottlieb criticized the nurses’ handling of the case.

“What happened to that baby and any danger to that baby was the fault not of Douglas Kennedy but the nurses involved in this case,” Gottlieb said. “There is no question about it during the entire incident, Mr. Kennedy was acting very politely, calmly, politely.”

Elliot Taub, the two nurses’ attorney, said Lane and Luciano “called a ‘code pink,’ that is, it looks like its someone trying to abscond from the hospital with a newborn. That alerts the security staff and when it escalated, they hit what’s called a ‘code purple,’ which means there is someone who is acting inappropriately, highly offensive, is a danger in the hospital.”