Pubdate: Wed, 17 Apr 2013
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2013 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Casey Seiler


Senator Says Legal Sales Will Pass but Cuomo Balks Despite "Stop and Frisk"

Advocates believe that this is the year both house of the Legislature 
will pass a bill legalizing medical marijuana in New York. But Gov. 
Andrew Cuomo doesn't seem ready to apply his signature.

A packed conference room of elected officials, advocates and patients 
with debilitating illnesses gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to 
renew the push for a newly revised bill to set up a medical marijuana 
production and distribution system.

The event was led by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, and 
Sen. Diane Savino of the Independent Democratic Conference, which 
controls the Senate in coalition with Republicans.

This year's version was crafted to pass in the Senate, and would 
create "the most tightly regulated, controlled, seed-to-sale model in 
the nation, " Savino argued.

"We're picking up support member by member," she said. "My count now 
is we have 38 yes votes, solid yes votes, (and) six leaning yes. We 
only need 32 (to pass) in the Senate."

Gottfried said the new legislation tightens the definition of a 
severe, debilitating or life-threatening condition that would be 
eligible for treatment with marijuana, and increases regulatory 
oversight from production to dispensing. Half of the tax revenue from 
the new system - raised from excise taxes of $250 per pound and 
licensing fees - would go to local governments.

Savino and Gottfried were asked about Cuomo's intention to 
decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana as a cure to 
the overuse of "stop-and-frisk" techniques by New York City law 
enforcement. Both said medical use of marijuana shouldn't be tied to 
criminal justice policy surrounding its recreational use.

Even so, Gottfried said, "I guess the one connection is that it's 
hard to explain why on the one hand you would be for reducing the 
penalties for people who are possessing for recreational use - and I 
agree with doing that - but ... continue to stand in the way of 
people who are really suffering and who are desperate to be able to 
be allowed to use marijuana to ease their suffering."

In a Tuesday news conference, Cuomo said that while he hadn't studied 
the latest version of the bill, "at this point I don't support 
medical marijuana," and added that any comparison to stop-and-frisk 
reform was "apples and oranges."
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