Cuomo Rejects Amended Medical Drug Bill

ALBANY (AP) -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo quashed a newly amended bill that would legalize medical marijuana, saying Tuesday he would not sign the bill into law if it passed both chambers of the Legislature, even as negotiations continued.

State lawmakers amended the bill Monday, narrowly beating a deadline and setting up a possible vote by the end of the week. But Cuomo said the bill still doesn’t address some of his concerns, including limiting the drug to creams and requiring the program to be evaluated in five years.

“We’ve made progress in the discussion, but we’re not there yet,” the Democrat told public radio’s “Capitol Pressroom.”

The amendments to the so-called Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize medical marijuana for severely ill patients, removed three conditions for which marijuana could be prescribed: diabetes, lupus and post-concussion syndrome. They also do away with the advisory panel that would oversee the program, as Cuomo suggested on Monday.

And the bill addresses Cuomo’s concern over who can administer the drug by allowing only doctors to prescribe marijuana.

The amended bill, introduced shortly before midnight Monday, needs to be on lawmakers’ desks for three days before it can be voted on, though Cuomo could waive the aging period. The legislative session ends on Thursday.

Advocates are pressing Cuomo to allow the drug to be smoked, saying that is the fastest way of ingesting the drug, which helps with nausea associated with chemotherapy treatment.