Amendments Made to Med-Mar Bill, Still No Deal
The IDC and Assembly sponsors of a bill that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in New York amended the measure late last night to address some – but not all – of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s publicly stated concerns.
Most notably, however, the latest version (D print) of the bill continues to allow patients over the age of 21 to smoke the drug – something Cuomo, citing concerns of the State Police and state Health Department officials, said he wants to ban altogether.
However, the changes removes three conditions from med-mar coverage – post-concussion, lupus and diabetes – and also does away with the advisory panel oversight structure, giving more discretion to the state Health commissioner.
The new version prohibits sharing the drug between patients, and caps the number of licenses for registered organizations to grow and dispense medical marijuana at 20, though the commissioner could expand that number after the first two years of the program, if necessary.
Smoking of medical marijuana would not be allowed in public places.
The changes to the Compassionate Care Act were introduced before midnight last night, which means this new version would be sufficiently aged for state lawmakers to take up on the Thursday – the last scheduled day of the 2014 legislative session.
But a source familiar with the negotiations cautioned that this amended act does not represent a three-way agreement between the Senate, Assembly and the governor. Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos is not yet on board, and without his approval, the bill cannot be brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
Sen. Diane Savino and Cuomo gave competing radio interviews to The Capitol Pressroom’s Susan Arbetter yesterday, with Savino, who has been aggressively pushing the Compassionate Care Act, lashing out at the governor for leaking details of weekend negotiations to the Daily News.
Cuomo left the door open for issuing a message of necessity to bypass the required three-day aging process for a medical marijuana deal, but said he would not sign off on anything that he believed would create “havoc” and a “public health disaster.”
Savino, who has already amended the Compassionate Care Act to limit smoking pot to those over the age of 21, rejected Cuomo’s call to ban smoking altogether, and insisted that the Senate would move forward to vote on a bill before the session’s end – with or without the governor’s approval.
This debate is going to rage on until the absolute eleventh hour, it appears. And the discussions are taking place in a highly charged political atmosphere, given the fact that the governor’s office and every single legislative seat is up for grabs in this election year.
As for the voters, med-mar continues to receive high marks.
Yesterday’s Siena poll found 43 percent of New Yorkers would prefer moving beyond a test program (as proposed by Cuomo) to legalize the use of pot by seriously ill individuals, while 37 percent agree with the governor that the more limited test route is the way to go, and 18 percent want to keep the drug completely illegal.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on June 17, 2014 at 6:38 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo, IDC, State Senate, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|