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Medical marijuana bill has not passed, lawmakers optimistic

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Updated: 6/17 11:30 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – Lawmakers are still optimistic the bill to legalize medical marijuana will pass despite Governor Andrew Cuomo rejecting the newly amended bill.

State lawmakers were back at the Capitol Tuesday tweaking and negotiating the Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize medical marijuana in New York State, to get Cuomo on board.

“For me, I think he should be comfortable with the bill we have, but we may need to accommodate a few more of his concerns,” Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said.

Cuomo’s concerns could delay the bill from passing even though Gottfried said there’s enough support from both the state senate and state assembly.

“There are clearly enough votes in the assembly,” Gottfriend continued. “Senator Savino is confident there are enough votes in the senate to pass it.”

However, Cuomo still needs to sign the bill despite having enough votes from both legislative bodies. But the governor is still concerned over some parts of the bill, including allowing the ability to smoke medical marijuana and a sunset provision that would require the program be evaluated in five years.

“Smoked or vaporized cannabis has a much more rapid onset than anything you’d swallow or eat,” Dr. Mitch Earlywine said.

Dr. Earlywine of the University of Albany has been researching cannabis since 2002.

“I don’t understand the governor’s apprehension,” he said. “I would hope he’d let science rather than politics guide the decision.”

Some health care professionals aren’t on board with the changes Cuomo would like to make.

“I feel like this idea that we are going to specify in the legislative body how to treat patients is unfair to physicians,” Earlywine said.

Legislative session ends on Thursday. The bill could pass but the governor would need a message of necessity.

A rally with families is scheduled to take place at noon on Wednesday at the Capitol.

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