ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said he would sign a bill to legalize medical marijuana -- but only if the legislation "makes sense."
Cuomo in January first unveiled his plan to unilaterally authorize up to 20 hospitals to distribute medical marijuana for research purposes. Advocates for the drug, however, have said Cuomo's plan doesn't go far enough and have pushed for a bill in the Legislature that would legalize it more broadly.
One of the major questions heading into the last two weeks of New York's legislative session is whether the state Senate will ultimately vote on the medical marijuana bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act. The legislation has progressed through the Senate Health Committee, but remains in limbo in the chamber's finance committee.
Cuomo has never committed to signing the bill if it is passed, but on Monday said he would be open to signing medical marijuana legislation in some form.
"Obviously, I support the overall effort, that's why we're doing it already," Cuomo told reporters in LaGrangeville, Dutchess County. "If they have a piece of legislation and the legislation makes sense, then I would sign it because I support the overall effort."
Whether the bill ever makes it to Cuomo's desk remains to be seen. The legislative session is scheduled to end June 19, and Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has expressed reservations about the bill.
Both Skelos and Senate Independent Democratic Leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, have to agree to bring a bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
The Compassionate Care Act would legalize marijuana for medical purposes to treat up to 20 illnesses, including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. It would also set up rules for growing and distributing the drug, as well as a tax on its sale.
Cuomo said the potential disadvantages of medical marijuana need to be taken into account.
"Remember, there are advantages to using marijuana for medical treatment," he said. "There are obviously disadvantages if you don't do it right, and if the controls aren't in place, it could be a problem. So how you do it is everything in this case."