| Posted on Fri, June, 13th 2014 by THCFinder
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised doubts on Thursday about whether he would sign into law a medical marijuana bill advancing through the state Legislature.
The bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, was transferred out of the Senate Finance Committee over the previous objections of its chairman. That puts it within striking distance of a vote on the Senate floor, with the Legislature due to break for the year next Thursday.
The bill, which the Assembly passed earlier this year, would have New York joining its neighbors, New Jersey and Connecticut, in legalizing medical marijuana. It would create a growth and distribution system for the drug and allow health-care practitioners to prescribe it for cancer and other serious conditions.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo European Pressphoto Agency
In January, Mr. Cuomo introduced a more limited pilot program that doesn't require legislative approval. On Thursday at an unrelated event in upstate Peekskill, the Democratic governor said he was concerned the Legislature's effort could backfire.
"This sets up an entire system for marijuana growing, production, distribution, sales, and if you're not careful and the system isn't done well, this could actually turn into a major negative," Mr. Cuomo said, calling marijuana a gateway drug for other illegal substances.
"We want to make it work," he said. "But we also recognize the downside, which is if you don't put in the correct system, you could have a serious problem on your hands."
The medical marijuana issue is coming to the fore during an election year when lawmakers and Mr. Cuomo had been focusing instead on a series of anti-heroin measures, among a handful of issues expected to be in focus before lawmakers leave Albany.
The broader legalization effort gained steam after the governor's idea to make pot available to the very ill was criticized by some advocates as too limited.
The governor envisions a distribution system confined to 20 hospitals statewide, a program that is dependent on federal approval, since without it hospitals could jeopardize their federal funding. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, even as states move to legalize it.