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ALBANY - After months of languishing, a bill that would provide emergency access to medical marijuana for certain types of patients has been sent to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for signature or veto.

 The governor has till Nov. 11 to act, according to Assemb. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), one of the bill sponsors.

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 Backers have said the bill is necessary in case the state’s regular medical marijuana program isn’t set to open in January as scheduled.

 It would allow some seriously ill patients – defined in the bill as those “whose condition is progressive and degenerative or for whom a delay in the  patient's  certified  medical use  of medical marijuana poses a serious risk to the person's life or health – to enjoy “expedited access” to treatment.

“Hopefully, the system will be up and running on schedule,” Gottfried said in a statement. “However, if problems develop, the bill could provide tools that the Health Department -- and some desperately ill patients and their families -- will be very grateful to have.”

But there’s been no word on why, if the point was expedited access, the bill wasn’t sent to the governor till Oct. 30 – more than four months after the state Legislature approved it.

Given the lag, Cuomo could veto the measure while pointing out that because the full-fledged program is on the verge of launching, “emergency” access isn’t necessary.  

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