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Assemb. Al Graf gets last laugh on medical marijuana

This Feb. 1, 2011 file photo shows medical

This Feb. 1, 2011 file photo shows medical marijuana clone plants at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Credit: AP / Jeff Chiu

ALBANY -- They laughed at him back then. But Assemb. Al Graf ended up getting the change he wanted in a medical marijuana bill currently under consideration in the State Legislature.

Graf (R-Holbrook) drew snickers two weeks ago when, while debating the bill, he asked why there were no provisions to prevent marijuana products from being sold in the edible form of gummy bears, chocolate bars and cookies. He went on for a good 10 minutes, talking about problems in Colorado -- which has legalized pot outright -- where marijuana is sold in candy forms.

But Graf got the last laugh: Legislators who sponsor the bill agreed this week to amend it to specifically ban "confections, carbonated beverages and products that are marketed to children."

"They laughed," Graf said Tuesday. "But I'm happy to see they listened to the debate, looked into it and agreed to change the bill. It worked."

Graf said he'd spoken often to his nephew, who lives in Colorado, about edible marijuana being packaged in forms to entice children. He raised the argument because he said New York should "address this issue before it becomes a problem."

Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), the prime sponsor of the medical marijuana bill in that chamber, said the "gummy bears" argument had an impact. "Out of those debates, we were able to pinpoint potential problems," she said.

Graf voted no on medical marijuana on May 27. He said he's still weighing how he will vote if the amended bill makes it back to the Assembly floor before the legislature adjourns for the summer, slated for June 19. Savino has said she is "very confident" the legislature will take up the issue before leaving.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has softened his stance and said he would approve a medical marijuana program if it has controls that "make sense."

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