SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Sen. John DeFrancisco said Thursday he’ll allow a vote on a medical marijuana bill before his committee — if the state Senate’s leadership decides to go ahead with the proposal.
“If the two leaders want it on the agenda, it will go on the agenda,” DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said. And if that’s what the leadership decides, DeFrancisco says he won’t hold up the bill.
Still, that remains a big if.
One Senate co-leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, is a co-sponsor of the legislation sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island. But the other, Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, has had reservations about Savino’s bill and medical marijuana, though he said earlier this month talks are continuing, according to the New York Daily News.
“Senator Skelos continues to review this issue,” Skelos spokesman Scott Reif said this morning. “There are a number of bills under consideration, but no decisions have been made.”
Savino has said she has enough support to pass the bill through the entire Senate.
DeFrancisco said he remains a no vote on the Savino bill.
The legislation passed the Senate Health Committee earlier this week by one vote. It’s now before the Senate Finance Committee, which DeFrancisco chairs.
It’s before the Finance Committee because, like most bills in the Senate, it involves money — possible costs of new regulations and revenues because of new taxes. There are 20 Republicans and 17 Democrats on the committee.
DeFrancisco says he’s spent hours this session reading hundreds of pages of testimony, talked with doctors at Upstate Medical University and met almost half a dozen times with proponents of the bill. His concerns still come down to this: If marijuana is an effective drug to alleviate suffering associated with conditions like cancer and lupus, why hasn’t the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved it?
Proponents like Susan Rusinko, of Auburn, say the drug is more effective at curbing pain and other side effects of her multiple sclerosis. But scientists says little research has been done to prove that out.
Rusinko isn’t giving up on Albany or DeFrancisco. She and about three dozen medical marijuana advocates plan to gather in Auburn this morning, where DeFrancisco will hold office hours.
DeFrancisco said he hopes to meet this morning with constituents he hasn’t heard from on other issues. But he also said he’s willing to listen, again, to those pushing for medical marijuana.
“I sympathize with people who use this and feel it helps them,” DeFrancisco said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t know how many times I can say the same thing…I have no problem saying the same thing again.”
A poll out this morning from Quinnipiac University shows 8 out of 10 New Yorkers support allowing marijuana as a medical treatment.
Contact Teri Weaver at [email protected], 315-470-2274 or on Twitter at @TeriKWeaver.
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