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Governor seeks changes to medical marijuana bill

JonRichfield/Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has rejected a medical marijuana bill newly amended by lawmakers to address some of the concerns he has raised in negotiations.  Cuomo said Tuesday the changes to the so-called "Compassionate Care Act'' don't include a ban smoking the drug and requiring the program to be evaluated in five years.

Lawmakers revised the measure late Monday, just beating a deadline and setting up a possible vote by the end of the week. Amendments included removing three conditions marijuana could be prescribed for: diabetes, lupus and post-concussion syndrome. It also does away with the advisory panel that would oversee the program. 

Cuomo voiced his concern on the legislation and made recommendations Monday. He said on public radio's "Capitol Pressroom'' Tuesday morning that there has been progress in talks, but no resolution.  

"We have made progress. That's the good news. The bad news is, we're not there yet," said Cuomo. "I have significant concerns from the professionals. It's a public health issue and it's a public safety issue."

"I want a provision that if we find that we have created a system that poses a public safety risk or public health risk, that we can stop the sale of marijuana," Cuomo added.

The bill would legalize medical marijuana for severely ill patients. Among the changes Monday was allowing only doctors to prescribe the drug.  

A spokesman for bill co-sponsor Sen. Diane Savino says negotiations with Cuomo's office are continuing. The amended bill needed the required three days to age before the legislative session ends Thursday.

You can hear "The Capitol Pressroom" weekday evenings at 8 p.m. on 88.7 FM WBFO.