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Bill to approve medicinal marijuana clears major step in New York

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A measure to make New York the 22nd state to allow prescriptions for medicinal marijuana for patients over the age of 21 has cleared the Senate health committee, despite a nay vote by its chairman Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City). It is now set to be reviewed by the Senate finance committee. Although Hannon agrees that there is a need for the drug to treat patients with epilepsy and some cancers, he feels that a more restrictive bill favored by Gov. Cuomo that would permit a select group of hospital to dispense it for certain specified syndromes would be better.

In the meantime, the bill’s sponsor Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) stated that she believes there are enough votes to pass it, but is not sure whether finance committee chairman John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) will allow it to be presented on the Senate floor for an official vote. The Assembly has already passed a similar version and would most likely work to adjust it to fit the senate version if passed. However, opponents of the bill want to hold off until after the FDA makes its own decision regarding medical marijuana use first. A third bill, that would allow only marijuana to be given in liquid form, is also under consideration.