Albany - Governor Cuomo held a press conference Thursday announcing that a deal had finally been reached between his office, the senate majority and the state assembly regarding medical marijuana in New York. The announcement came in the eleventh hour, after a week of negotiations that would determine the fate of patients across the state. Supporters from Brooklyn to Buffalo flooded the capitol on Wednesday to show their support for the bill. On Thursday morning behind closed doors, the leadership finally came to an agreement allowing legislation to pass this session, but not without making major sacrifices to the existing language.
Among new provisions in the bill, the most striking one does not allow traditional smoking of the flower, but would allow vaporization. Quantities are limited to two ounces per 30 days. Production facilities were scaled down from a proposed 20 to only five, but each will allowed to set up four retail locations from which to dispense product. Cuomo has gone on record saying he has wanted his state to set the model for the rest of the country by having the tightest program in the nation. New language in the bill will not only set up criminal penalties for people who try to defraud the system, but as a failsafe, will also provide a way to end the program at the governors discretion.
Early Friday morning in an overnight session, the assembly passed the bill by an overwhelming vote of 113 to 14. The senate is scheduled to resume at 10am, when they are expected to vote the bill into law before the legislative season wraps up for the year.