Senator: Cuomo puts unreasonable demands on medical marijuana bill

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Sen. Diane Savino discusses the medical marijuana bill Sen. Diane Savino discusses the medical marijuana bill May 20, 2014, during a hearing at the Capitol in Albany. Photo Credit: Albany Times Union / Cindy Schultz

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting unreasonable demands on a medical marijuana proposal with little time remaining in the legislative session, a key senator said Monday.

Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), the sponsor of a bill to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the Democrat governor traded small insults on the issue as the session moved into its final week. Cuomo said that legislators hadn’t tackled medical marijuana in a thoughtful way and contended their proposal could “wreak havoc.” Savino called the governor’s criticisms “disingenuous” and “ridiculous.”

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Cuomo proposed limiting pot dispensaries to just four across New York and authorizing them for just a five-year period. Savino said such conditions would mean the medical marijuana industry likely never gets off the ground in the state.

 “It would send a red flag to the marijuana industry in other states: Don’t come to New York. We’re closed for business,” Savino told reporters.

The clock is ticking on lawmakers’ ability to resolve the issue. Legislators are slated to adjourn for the year on Thursday -- though they could stay till Friday. Any bill they want to approve must be printed three days before a vote – making Monday the deadline for agreement in time for a Thursday vote.

"It's not necessarily the best program from a public safety, public health point of view,” Cuomo said on "The Capitol Pressroom," a public-radio show, signaling to some that the governor wants to take control of an issue that lawmakers have pushed aggressively this year.

Among other things, Cuomo said the bill authored by Savino and Assemb. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) allows one patient to accumulate too much pot per month. The Democrat-led Assembly approved the measure earlier this year, sending it to the Senate.

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“I'm not going to be part of a system that is just going to wreak havoc,” Cuomo said. Later, he added that Savino is “not a health professional.”

Savino said Gottfried has worked on the issue 18 years and she’s worked on it “every day of the last two years.”

“To suggest that we haven’t approached this in a thoughtful and comprehensive manor, you know, I think is, uh, somewhat ridiculous,” Savino said.

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