While it's a hot issue in New York State, medical marijuana was not included in the Senate's budget proposal this week. With a growing number of senators behind legalization, Nick Reisman has an update on where the legislature stands, and what could happen in the future.
NEW YORK STATE -- Support for medical marijuana legislation is building among Republicans in the state Senate. Over the last few weeks, several GOP lawmakers from western New York have lined up behind the bill. Now the Senate's number two Republican, Tom Libous, says he's studying the measure as well.
Senator Tom Libous said, "I'm learning. I'm wanting to understand more about it. The one thing that is very clear from the doctors who I've talked to, smoking is something they do not support."
Libous is currently undergoing chemotherapy sessions to treat a recurrence of cancer. In an interview, he didn't rule out ever trying medical marijuana himself.
He added, "I'm doing my homework. I just had a chemo treatment on Wednesday and had a long talk with my oncologist."
The growing medical marijuana movement comes in part from an aggressive lobbying campaign. Senator Diane Savino, a Democrat in the ruling majority coalition, is the bill's sponsoring in the chamber.
Senator Diane Savino said, "There are more Republicans who are going to come out in support of this as we move forward."
In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo dropped his opposition to medical marijuana and announced he would create a limited program through an existing state law. at the time Cuomo said he didn't think the support was there in the Legislature for a more expansive program.
Governor Cuomo said, "I believe there is a legislative hunger to pass marijuana legislation this year. But that's something we'll have to wait to see."
But since that time support has been building for the bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, which is wider in scope than what Cuomo so far has proposed.
Savino went on to say, "Members of the Senate are very slow and methodical in their legislative process. They have questions and rightfully so before they commit to a piece of legislation and that's what's happening."
Cuomo's executive order for medical marijuana is yet to be released. This week the Assembly included a medical marijuana program in its budget, estimating such a program would add $65 million in tax revenue.