IC Alumnus Leads the Push for Medical Marijuana in Ithaca

Written by Angela Kim

Evan Nison, a graduate of Ithaca College and the current director of NORML New Jersey. Photo courtesy of www.normlnj.org.

Evan Nison, a graduate of Ithaca College and the current director of NORML New Jersey. Photo courtesy of http://www.normlnj.org.

Ever since 2009, Evan Nison, a graduate of Ithaca College’s Class of 2012, has been making his passion for marijuana legalization a career.

“I think that being young and a reformer makes sense. Young people and minorities are targeted, so it makes sense that they are leading the charge. The war on drugs says that we need to enforce these laws to protect these young people, but we are also affected by the negative impacts of them.”

New York recently became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana. Nison has been working to bring medical marijuana specifically into Ithaca.

In a statement to the Ithaca Voice, Nison said that while attending Ithaca College, he met about a dozen cancer patients in the Ithaca area who wanted medical marijuana but did not want to break the law to get it.

Nationwide, the need for medical marijuana is increasing alongside the rates of cancer seen in people. According to the American Cancer Society, between 1930 and 2011 the rate of cancer has been significantly increasing in some aspects. The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has increased from 3.8 percent to 9.5 percent in females and 4.5 percent to 12.5 percent in males.

With that increase, Nison is aware of the problem and is  doing what he can to assist patients specifically in Ithaca who need medical marijuana for health issues.

“Right now the regulations haven’t been finalized, so we’ve started talking to some of the people that it would be necessary for, if or when we can move on, but we can’t do much until the regulations are released.”

Nison now directs the East Coast division of Terra Tech. Terra Tech is the first U.S. company on the stock market to produce and sell medical marijuana, already having raised $6.8 million according to Syracuse.com. The company plans to raise an additional $15 million for dispensing medical marijuana throughout New York.

Nison is pushing for them to consider dispensing medical marijuana in Ithaca. Although the regulations have not been released yet, there will be five licenses that are going to be awarded to companies, and each company will get four dispensaries, meaning that 20 different locations in New York will have access to medical marijuana.

Right now the regulations have not been finalized, so Nison says that all they can do is talk to the people the medical marijuana would be necessary for.

Nison’s History of Supporting Medical Marijuana

Nison has been heavily involved in trying to bring medical marijuana to Ithaca since he was a sophomore at IC when he created the club ‘the New York Campus Alliance.’ The group eventually transformed into the club that is known today as the ‘Ithaca College Students for Sensible Drug Policy.’

Through Nison’s lead, the organization passed the marijuana and alcohol equalization policy, which applies to the medical amnesty policy. Marijuana used to be treated much harsher than alcohol and had severe consequences for overdosing. In a statement to timesunion.com, Mayor Myrick said, “I believe that New York should seriously consider legalizing marijuana; taxing it and regulating it.”

Now thanks to Nison, not only students can call public safety without the fear of punishment for an alcohol overdose, but they can also call for drug overdoses because drugs and alcohol are being treated equally.

Nison’s passionate fight for medical marijuana has stemmed from his belief that he could make the biggest change in.

“I was researching a lot of different issues related to people: student loan issues, sustainability issues, and I feel like the war on drugs is something I can make the biggest change in.”

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