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Medical marijuana sponsors pushing ahead with legalization effort

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- The legislative sponsors of an effort to legalize medical marijuana in New York say they will not be dissuaded in their effort by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that the state will conduct a clinical trial on the effectiveness of the drug for children who suffer from rare seizure disorders.

Sen. Diane Savino, a State Island Democrat, and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat, said the governor’s latest plan -– along with a previously announced effort aimed at adult patients with certain health conditions -– does not swiftly enough address the medical needs by everyone to people with cancer to HIV.

“Nobody opposes the concept of clinical trials, but that trial has already been done in five states and produced little or no benefit,’’ Savino said of the new Cuomo effort, which was recently signed by the state health department and British drug company GW Pharmaceuticals.

“No one should assume that addresses the issue of medical marijuana. It affects only one group of patients with one illnesses and does not do anything for the tens of thousands of people with other health conditions,’’ she said.

Gottfried and Savino have begun discussions to create a same-as bill that will be ready for a vote before the end of session on June 19. The Assembly already passed a medical marijuana bill and Savino has said 40 senators have said they would vote yes on a bill if it hits the Senate floor. Several Republicans, including Western New York Republicans George Maziarz and Mark Grisanti, are co-sponsors of the Savino bill.

“Dick and I are in the process of moving forward to get the bills to match as soon as possible,’’ Savino said.

Gottfried on Tuesday declined to provide specifics of how his bill and Savino’s legislation will be amended to become same-as bills for a floor vote by the two houses. “Our hope is we have a bill that can be printed in both houses that could command a majority in both houses,’’ he said.

Gottried called a clinical trial a “good thing,’’ but cautioned, like Savino, that it will not address the need advocates say exists for people with health conditions who could be helped by marijuana instead of often costly and addictive pain killers.

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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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