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Cuomo says medical marijuana bill isn't dead yet

Brett Levin

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that there's still a chance the state legislature could pass a medical marijuana bill that he would sign.

Only five days remain in this year's session, and the governor had previously said that he it was unlikely any major issues would pass by then. But in an interview today with the public radio show "Capitol Pressroom," Cuomo declared that medical marijuana legislation is not dead.

"In concept it's a good idea, and the question is how do you implement it, and do you have a safe system." Cuomo said. "And do you have a system that can't be exploited?"

The state Assembly has passed legislation legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but the Senate has not been willing to approve a measure so far.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), said today that negotiations are underway with the governor's office and the Assembly to see if they can come to an agreement by Monday.

But Cuomo admits the concept of legal medical marijuana makes law enforcement nervous.

"It's a good idea if done right," Cuomo said. "If it is not implemented correctly, it's a real problem from a public safety, public health point of view."

Savino says the bill, which has been called the "Compassionate Care Act," has moved from the finance committee to the rules committee, its last stop before coming to a vote.

There are opponents to the controversial legislation. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) says he will not let the measure be brought to a vote. State Senate Republican Leader Sen. Dean Skelos also has concerns about allowing marijuana to be smoked, but is open to other forms.