Huffpost New York

Medical Marijuana In New York Could, Like Gay Marriage, Come Down To A Handful Of GOP Votes

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The push to bring medical marijuana to New York is gaining new momentum in Albany this week. The Wall Street Journal reports State Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) is once again on the pot offensive, sponsoring a bill to legalize medicinal use of the drug.

Similar medical marijuana bills were passed by large margins in 2007 and 2008 in the Assembly, but couldn't get through the Senate.

This time, however, with political conditions similar to those that allowed marriage equality to pass, Savino's measure might just have a fighting chance.

For starters, Governor Andrew Cuomo--who said as a gubernatorial candidate in 2010 that "The dangers of medical marijuana outweigh the benefits"--has softened his stance to say that he has "no final position" on the issue.

"He hasn't said no," Savino told The Journal of the Governor. "He's willing to have a conversation."

And then there's the Senate.

Currently, Republicans hold a 32-30 majority in the Senate but advocates say they see potential for half a dozen GOP votes for the Savino's measure. 28 Democrats in the senate favor medical marijuana legislation.

Similarly, it was a handful of GOP votes in the senate that were needed to pass marriage equality back in June.

Savino's support for the bill is also personal. She lost both of her parents to cancer.

“Anyone who has watched a loved one struggle with a debilitating illness would do almost anything to help alleviate their pain,” Savino wrote in a letter to Governor Cuomo last summer after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie allowed a medical marijuana bill to move forward. “New Jersey showed real compassion for Garden State residents who are suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other life-threatening diseases. We need to follow this example and pass legislation to allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana when no other option is available.

A Quinnipiac poll in 2010 found that 71 percent of New Yorkers think medical marijuana is a "good idea"

16 states in the US have legalized medical marijuana.