ALBANY, N.Y. — It was a sleepless night for many lawmakers at the Capitol Thursday.
The New York State Assembly and Senate passed legislation for medical marijuana. Also known as the Compassionate Care Act, the bill was passed 113 to 13 early Thursday morning in the Assembly, and 49 to 10 in the Senate.
After more than 2 hours of debate on the floor of the senate, the Compassionate Care ACT passed.
Senate co- leaders both spoke during debate, explaining why they support it.
“We should be a little flexible. We should be a little bit more compassionate. And a little more understanding of the journey others are having,” said Senate Majority Co-Leader Dean Skelos.
“The merits of this bill are sound. It is a comprehensive bill that ensures the safe and regulated use of medical marijuana in the state of New York. This bill puts the power to prescribe where it belongs in the hands of doctors that know their patients best,” said Senator Jeffrey Klen, temporary President and Majority Coalition Leader.
It has not been an easy fight for legislators pushing for the bill. After a week of negotiations between Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, the deal was finally reached to establish a medical marijuana program for the state on Thursday.
The bill will legalize certain forms of medical marijuana for severely ill patients. Under this legislation, it does not allow the drug to be sold in plant form or smoked but can be administered through a vaporizer, an oil base, or pill form.
If passed, the bill will not take effect for 18 months. The bill now goes to Gov. Cuomo to be signed into law.
Twenty-two states and Washington D.C. have laws allowing medical marijuana, 10 of which have been passed within the last five years. But, none of the other states have a rule against smoking marijuana like New York will.