Last week, the Assembly Health Committee passed Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried's (D-Manhattan) medical marijuana bill out of committee in a 15-4 vote. The bill — A4867 — has 38 co-sponsors and is now heading to the Assembly Codes Committee.

In past years, the leadership of both chambers — Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Saratoga Springs) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) — have expressed support for allowing the medical use of marijuana. And, for the first time in recent history, a member of the majority party of the Senate — Rep. Vincent Leibell (R-Putnam County) — sponsored a medical marijuana bill during the 2005-2006 session.

Yet, sadly, New York's sensible medical marijuana bills have never received a floor vote. Please let legislators know that protecting the seriously ill from arrest should be a priority this year. Urge them to enact a compassionate medical marijuana law this year.

There is no excuse for inaction. Medical marijuana has also garnered overwhelming support in both the medical community and among the public in New York. Seventy-six percent of New Yorkers, the state medical society, the state nurses association, Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State, New York StateWide Senior Action Council, Gay Men's Health Crisis, and New York AIDS Coalition all support New York's medical marijuana legislation.

If you are a patient, clergy member, law enforcement official or medical professional who wants to help or if you know of one who does, please e-mail Karen@mpp.org.

Thank you for your support. Please pass this on to other New Yorkers so that together we can make sure that no patient faces arrest for using marijuana to treat serious conditions.