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The push for a New York medical marijuana law is heating up. State Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) has plans to introduce a medical marijuana bill in the coming weeks, just months before the legislative session ends in June.
But as far as Governor Andrew Cuomo is concerned, the medical marijuana bill is a bit premature.
The Governor has signaled that he has no intention to sign the legislation if passed. He needs more time to analyze its risks and benefits, and as of right now, the risks are winning the debate.
New York’s medical marijuana bill is not unique — the drug is legal in 16 states and Washington, D.C. State legislators had tried to pass similar laws in 2005, 2007 and 2008, but the Wall Street Journal reports they all failed.
Savino’s bill is slightly different than these past iterations. Under the proposed plan, medical marijuana will only be available from a licensed dispensary, explains the paper. Only those who are too poor to purchase it or live too far from a dispensary may grow their own plants.
Despite widespread support for this kind of New York medical marijuana bill — 71% of voters support it — passing the law could bring unwanted attention to the state. The U.S. Justice Department is still enforcing the federal marijuana ban against dispensaries that are located too close to children and those that don’t comply with other state and federal rules.
Though medical marijuana will undoubtedly bring in revenue, the state may ultimately not want to deal with these kinds of legal entanglements and the resources they will require. The New York medical marijuana bill is a lot for law enforcement and regulators to take on.