New York's Medical Marijuana Bill Is Up Against the Clock as Gov. Cuomo Hesitates

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Supporters of New York's proposed medical marijuana law have their work cut out for them. They have until the end of the legislative session — tomorrow — to convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the Compassionate Care Act into law without gutting it. He's reluctant, at best. As he said during a press conference on Wednesday, "It's very hard to put the genie back in the bottle if you do it wrong." 

After negotiations last week, lawmakers presented Cuomo with a possible bill on Monday, but he showed his wariness again on Tuesday when he said he wouldn't sign something that's "just going to wreak havoc." Monday's version, among other things, removed diabetes, lupus, and post-concussion syndrome from the list of illnesses eligible for treatment, the Associated Press reportedBut Cuomo also wants to ban smoking marijuana and only allow vaporization, pills and edibles. 

If New York's bill does pass, it'll be the most regulated medical marijuana program in the country. But it's equally possible that Cuomo will follow other political moderates like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who called medical marijuana "a front for legalization" this week

The Democratic legislature has until Thursday to pass a bill Cuomo will sign, and after a private meeting with the governor on Wednesday there's some optimism. “My prediction is we’re going to end this session on a high,” state Sen. Jeff Klein told WAMC. (We're not sure if the pun was intended.) State assemblyman Richard Gottfried told WAMC that he was still opposed to banning smoking, which offers "immediate relief." That isn't surprising — Gottfried was the one who first introduced a medical marijuana bill in 1997the year after California's law passed.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.