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Veteran lawmaker wants pot law, not Cuomo's regulatory approach

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s reversal on a plan to permit use of marijuana for certain illnesses is being welcomed by state lawmakers, but a longtime proponent of the drug’s use for medicinal purposes says the governor’s regulatory idea does not go far enough.

Cuomo indicated today he wants no part of the Legislature adopting a law to permit marijuana’s use for what he believes should only be selective ailments in fewer than a dozen hospitals. His idea is tapping into a never-used 1980 New York medical marijuana law that gives his administration authority to design and implement who gets access to the drug and for what illnesses.

But Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the Assembly’s health committee chairman, said that while Cuomo’s idea is “an important interim step,’’ there needs to be a more comprehensive examination of the issue to ensure the drug can be used by more patients than envisioned by lawmakers 34 years ago.

“Science is well beyond where we were in 1980 … There are many patients who could benefit from medical marijuana who cannot be helped under the 1980 law, such as children with severe epilepsy,’’ said Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat.

He noted other states regulate the type of cannabis strains and strengths depending on the patient with access to the drug.

But Cuomo indicated today that he wants no part of the Legislature dictating a medical marijuana law to him. “It’s not the Legislature telling me what I have to do. And that gives me great comfort, because if it goes bad, we can correct or improve all within our own control,’’ Cuomo told reporters.

The governor also said he is opposed to legalization of the drug, such as in Colorado, or decriminalization of its possession as he pushed for last year. The Cuomo plan, without further specifics, includes permitting the drug to be dispensed at 20 hospitals statewide and for only certain conditions, such as cancer.

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Albany | Andrew Cuomo
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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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