Thursday, December 25, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: How Medical Marijuana is Getting Snuffed Out

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It's an old trick in Albany: say you support something and then bury it to death in weird details.

In January, the governor surprised many when he reversed himself in his State of the State address and called for a pilot program in the state to legalize medical marijuana.

But the initial program pushed by Cuomo confused advocates because the governor wanted to forbid the marijuana to be grown in New York State – meaning that the drug would have to be taken from a small federal research farm managed by the University of Mississippi.

While the issue slowly made its way onto the back burner through the legislative session, there was renewed speculation that the State Senate could push it through this week –
before lawmakers go home for the year.

But the governor – who still officially "supports" medical marijuana – is throwing cold water on the State Senate's plan by saying he doesn't support medical marijuana if it can be smoked.

"The state police have serious concerns about the bill. Department of Health professionals have serious concerns about the bill," Cuomo said in a radio interview yesterday. "When it comes to public safety and public health, we tend to look at the experts."

But many experts point to the fact that medical marijuana is already legal in 20 states – and that smoking is an option in almost all of them.

Such a prohibition by the governor is his marijuana version of the Safe Act – the handgun control measure that the governor pushed through which later had to be modified because of confusion over the size of gun magazines.

A cynic would say that Cuomo perhaps is trying to have it both ways; he mollifies critics on the left by saying he fought for medical marijuana while making sure it doesn't actually happen during an election year to avoid any controversy that could be seized on by conservative Republicans.

Cuomo has shown that when he wants something done – like the Safe Act or gay marriage – he can move mountains in the State Capitol.

But this is one mountain of marijuana that's unlikely to be going anywhere – at least for another year.

Bob Hardt

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