The cause of medical marijuana has become a full-fledged political movement, with two national organizations running campaigns across the country, the Village Voice reports. Medical marijuana is legal in 11 states. In New York, the cause has grown in popularity. Now even New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, a Republican who battled prostate cancer last year, has begun to sound much more receptive. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court allows federal agents to arrest pot-smoking patients who obey their own state laws, medical-marijuana laws in states like California would not change; they would still permit patients to smoke pot (though these patients would be vulnerable to arrest by federal agents). “Nobody ever expected this case to get this far,” says Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which helped finance this lawsuit as well as medical-marijuana campaigns in eight states. “If we win this, it would be a very significant step forward. If we lose, it’s just a tiny step backward.”
Getting a medical marijuana bill enacted in New York State would represent a substantial victory for the pro-pot movement. The Marijuana Policy Project, a national organization that spent $3 million on campaigns this year, will target New York in 2005, as well as Rhode Island, Illinois, and a few other states. Already, the group has a lobbyist working in Albany.