Lawmakers to vote on medical marijuana bill

ALBANY, N.Y. – State lawmakers still need to vote on the approved medical marijuana bill.

Lawmakers said Thursday they were confident a vote on the Compassionate Care Act would take place Thursday night. Some said by 11 p.m. while others said before daybreak.

While in session, lawmakers will go through the bill section by section, but many said they don’t think there will be any problems passing the bill.

If the legislation passes, New York will be the twenty-third state to legalize medical marijuana. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday afternoon a deal had been reached on the bill.

Lawmakers had been amending the bill because Cuomo had concerns about certain aspects of the legislation. But he said he could support the newly amended bill because he can put a stop to the medical marijuana program at any moment.

“There are no advisory boards. There’s no intermediaries,” he said. “It’s regulated by the Department of Health. It can be stopped by the executive at any given time, so I think this is the best of both worlds.”

The bill now sits on the senate floor. Assemblyman John McDonald said it was that strict regulation which made both sides come to an agreement.

“I think it was a fair compromise on the legislature’s part as well to say, ‘Ok, you’re right. If it gets out of control, which is not anyone’s intention, pull it back.’”

But a local registered nurse said potentially ending the program is a cause for concern.

“To think that a plug can be pulled on a program,” she said. “Patients’ lives are at stake here.”

Lawmakers are currently reviewing the bill’s language and while they could be in discussions past midnight, some senators don’t expect any problems in passing the bill.

“I expect there will be some people who are positive about it, and some people who won’t be,” Senator Neil Breslin said. “I think on balance they’ll be an agreement that it should be passed.”

The bill sits on the assembly and senate floor and lawmakers must pick the bill apart and take a vote. Thursday is the last day of session, so they also have other local bills to go through.


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