In final days of session, governor, Senate at odds over medical marijuana bill

Governor Cuomo/via Flickr
June 17, 2014

There are three days left in the session and New York lawmakers are grappling with a bill legalizing medical marijuana. Governor Cuomo says he still has major issues with the current proposal.

Cuomo wants to prohibit smoking and only allow ingestion of marijuana through edibles and vaporizers.

The bill’s sponsor Senator Diane Savino says that change is not going to pass.

"We reject that," says Savino. "Health care professionals who prescribe medical marijuana and patient advocates will be the first to tell you that for some patients, smoking is the only method to provide the relief that they need. It is also easier to manage the dosage if you smoke it."

Cuomo says he wants to make sure the roll-out of the medical marijuana system is done carefully.

"And if we have a debacle, what do we do?" asks Cuomo.

So, he’s a proposing a sunset clause requiring reauthorization by the legislature after five years.

Senator Savino says that would discourage the industry from setting up business in New York.

“No one is going to come to New York state to open up or apply for a license if they have to worry the industry is going to be shut down in five years," says Savino. "It’s going to take at least two years to establish the regulations before licenses can be issued."

To pass the bill this session will require a message of necessity from Cuomo, waiving the three-day waiting period before a new law can be voted on.