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Cuomo, Savino spar over medical marijuana

An article published in today’s New York Daily News set off a public squabble between the Governor and the Senate sponsor of a bill to make marijuana legal in New York for medical purposes. The report, found here, detailed Governor Cuomo’s concerns with the Compassionate Care Act. Bill sponsor, Senator Diane Savino D – Staten Island, was anything but grateful to the Governor for his suggestions when she appeared on Monday’s Capitol Pressroom.

“I come from the labor movement, where you don’t negotiate in the press,” said Savino. “But you have to have a partner in that. Since our partners have decided that they would release a list of must haves, we can say definitively that the vast majority we had agreed to in the bill to begin with, or that we had agreed to as part of our discussions. We’ve been waiting 3 days to get language from the executive.”

When asked to give an example of an issue that they had already agreed to, Savino responded, “Well there was an issue of reciprocity between states, we acknowledged that on Friday. Only one other state has reciprocity. Fine, take it off the table. It’s hard to implement anyway.”

There are 2 issues the Governor is pushing for that Senator Savino says she won’t compromise on. First, Cuomo wants the law to sunset in 5 years something she argues will hinder companies from investing in the state. Second, Cuomo rejects any kind of smoking marijuana; instead he supports other forms of the drug, like pills.

“We reject that, and let me tell you why,” said Savino. “We think we have done everything possible to mitigate the issue of smoking.”

According to Savino health professionals who prescribe medical marijuana and patient advocates “will be the first to tell you that for some patients smoking is the only method that is effective.”

But Governor Cuomo isn’t buying it.

“The State Police has serious concerns about the bill,” he told the Capitol Pressroom a few minutes after Savino appeared. “Health Professionals have serious concerns about the bill. I don’t think Senator Savino could call herself a public health or safety expert. If it’s not done correctly it’s a public health and public safety disaster.”

Legislative leaders and the Governor met Monday afternoon, and a bill was printed just before midnight.  The bill now has to age for three days before the Senate and Assembly can vote on it.

The Legislative session ends on Thursday.

Listen to The Capitol Pressroom here.

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