June 2014           News | Upcoming Programs & CLE | Reports | Get Involved


Housing as Health Care and Implications for the Right to Counsel
June 30
6:00 - 8:00 PM

Renowned panelists from the practice of law, public health and tenant advocacy will engage in a critical discussion about how the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City has been affected by housing crisis and lack of a right to counsel in civil proceedings.

Missed a Program? You Can Still Benefit! CLE Programs' CDs, DVDs and other course
materials can be found on the website.


New York 23rd State to Legalize Medical Marijuana
During the last week of session, the state Senate and Assembly passed legislation to permit the limited use of medical marijuana in New York. The legislation was the result of extensive negotiations between the Legislature and the Governor. Some key provisions of the bill include:

  • Marijuana can be delivered by vaporization, oils, pills or other possible mechanisms but not through smoking.
  • Marijuana can be prescribed to treat roughly half a dozen approved medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis, ALS, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, cancer, neuropathies, and HIV-AIDS. Additional conditions can be included if approved by the NYS Department of Health.
  • The NYS Department of Health will administer the program and establish regulations. Doctors wishing to prescribe medical marijuana will need to be approved by the Department and receive training; patients who receive the drug will receive an ID card.
  • The number of manufacturers and dispensaries allowed in the state will be limited.
  • Increased criminal penalties have been established for people who defraud the program.
  • Insurance companies will not cover the drug.
  • The law will go into effect 18 months after it is signed or whenever the Department of Health Commissioner determines the system is ready, whichever comes later.

The bill text can be viewed here. The Drugs and the Law Committee and Health Law Committee, who commented extensively on a prior version of the bill, will monitor the further development and implementation of this program over the coming months.

Legislation Enacted to Combat Heroin, Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse
Governor Cuomo has signed into law a series of bills intended to combat heroin, opioid and prescription drug abuse. These measures included new programs and insurance reforms to improve treatment options for New Yorkers facing addiction, strengthened penalties to curb the distribution of illegal drugs and provisions to provide for the safe and appropriate use of naloxone to combat overdoses. To read more about the new laws, click here.

In Case You Missed It

  • The Mayor’s Office established the Task Force on Behavioral Health & the Criminal Justice System. The Task Force is charged with developing a plan to ensure that the City’s criminal justice system addresses the needs of individuals with behavioral and mental health issues appropriately and effectively. This issue is of great interest to the City Bar’s Mental Health Law Committee and various criminal justice committees, and was discussed in our 2013 report Policy Recommendations for New York City’s Next Mayor.
  • The NYS Department of Health released a youth sexual health plan, a guide intended to ensure that accurate sexual health information is made available to youth throughout the state. The Sex and Law Committee has long advocated for comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education in New York’s schools and looks forward to seeing the report’s recommendations implemented. For more information and to read the full report, click here.
  • The NYPD will significantly limit its policy of collecting condoms as evidence in prostitution-related cases. This practice has been criticized by the AIDS Committee because it undermines the City and State’s efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

Surrogate Decision-Making Improvements Acts
The Committees on Health Law and Bioethical Issues expressed support for a package of seven bills, Surrogate Decision-Making Improvement Acts, which would effect a series of modest changes to improve, coordinate and clarify New York's surrogate decision-making rules, including the Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA). According to the report, the changes proposed in the Acts will achieve valuable improvements in the rules governing decision-making for incapable patients and reflect an understanding that experience is revealing the need for corrections and improvements in the FHCDA, as well as in New York's several other surrogate decision-making laws. [None of these bills were ultimately voted on by either house of the Legislature before session ended on June 20th.]

Dispensers of Prescription Pain Medication
The Committee on Bioethical Issues expressed support for A.1124-A/S.7660, state legislation that would require health care professionals licensed, registered or certified under Title Eight of the Education Law to treat humans and registered under the Federal Controlled Substances Act and in possession of a registration number from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, to complete three hours of Continuing Medical Education course work on pain management, palliative care and addiction every two years. According to the report, the proposed legislation would address the need for mandated education for health care professionals and improve public safety and health. [This legislation passed the Senate unanimously but was not voted on by the Assembly.]

Committee Involvement--It's Never too Late
Committees are how the City Bar’s work gets done. Working on a committee can give you great experience while opening up a number of leadership opportunities and career doors, some you may not even anticipate.

A full list of the City Bar committees along with a brief description of each and an application form can be found on the City Bar’s website. As a number of City Bar committees have more applicants than available slots, please consider applying to more than one committee.

Legislative Affairs
Have an interest in or questions about the City Bar’s legislative work? Send an email to legislation@nycbar.org, visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Updates include recent City Bar reports, news and upcoming programs in a particular practice area and are issued periodically to City Bar members.