New York Governor Expresses ‘Concerns’ About Medical Pot Bill

New York Governor Expresses ‘Concerns’ About Medical Pot Bill

By Shawn Dwyer 06/16/14

Medical marijuana looked like a sure thing in the Empire State before Governor Cuomo threw a wrench in the works.

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After the state assembly easily passed a medical marijuana bill at the end of May, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears determined to scuttle the senate version of the Compassionate Care Act.

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), chief sponsor of the bill, went so far as to say that the governor is placing unreasonable demands on the act that could potentially kill the medical pot business in the state before it ever gets off the ground.

“It would send a red flag to the marijuana industry in other states: Don’t come to New York. We’re closed for business,” Savino said to reporters.

Last year, Cuomo stated unequivocally that he did not support medical marijuana in New York. "I understand the pros and cons, I understand the argument,” he said during a press conference in April 2013. “We are looking at it, but at this point, I do not support medical marijuana." But just last week, the governor changed positions and said he would sign a bill coming out the senate so long as it “makes sense.”

Fast-forward to this week, Cuomo appears to have shifted his positions once again now that the Compassionate Care Act has enough support to clear the upper chamber. Among his so-called concerns are that the bill does not prevent smoking medical pot, as opposed to vaporizing or taking THC pills, or sharing among patients. He also wants lowered doses, a list of diseases one must have to qualify for medical weed, and a five-year sunset clause.

"If we can address those concerns, there will be a bill," Cuomo said. "But I'm not going to be part of a system that's just going to wreak havoc."

Savino denounced Cuomo’s concerns as being “disingenuous” and claimed that he has yet to officially make a counter proposal, choosing instead to negotiate changes to the bill through the press.

"You need to be serious in your approach," Savino said. "We've been waiting since Friday for language; we haven't gotten any."