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New York Could Legalize Medical Marijuana Next Week

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A bill to legalize medical marijuana in New York state cleared what may have been its final obstacle Thursday.

Sen. Diane Savino (D) said at a press conference in Albany Thursday that the Compassionate Care Act -- which would legalize medicinal use of the drug in New York -- has been moved from the Senate Finance Committee to the Rules Committee. Earlier this week, Finance Committee Chairman Sen. John DeFrancisco (R) seemingly threatened to prevent the bill from coming to a vote.

Moving legislation to the Rules Committee happens routinely in Albany near the end of a legislative session in order to bring a bill to a full vote, and advocates say they have more than enough "yes" votes for the CCA to pass. The bill has already passed the New York State Assembly.

The legislation would make New York the 23rd state in the country to legalize the drug for medical use.

The news comes just days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed support for the CCA for the first time. Cuomo said he would sign a bill that "makes sense."

At the press conference, Savino said that she and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried-- the bill's sponsor in the Assembly-- are now in negotiations with the governor's office over the CCA.

"It's in three-way negotiations with the governor's office, and we will have a final product in time for the end of this legislative session," she told reporters. The legislative session ends on Friday, June 19.

According to Savino, Cuomo's office didn't have any major concerns regarding the CCA. Current negotiations are related to finer details in the legislation, such as language involving training protocols for doctors and measures to prevent medical marijuana from being diverted to the black market, she said.

"It's about making sure we're dotting the I's and crossing the T's," Savino said.

In another discussion with reporters this week, Savino called the CCA the "tightest, most regulated piece of legislation that will affect the medical marijuana industry in this country." She said she has 40 "yes" votes in the state Senate, more than enough for the measure to pass.

A poll earlier this year found that a supermajority of New York residents -- nearly 90 percent -- support legalized medical marijuana.

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