ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Lawmakers may be coming to an agreement to allow the use of medical marijuana after revised legislation was introduced Friday that limits the number of diseases that would qualify for prescriptions.
Opponents criticized the original bill for allowing prescribers to determine what constitutes a serious condition, previously defined generally as severely debilitating or life threatening. The amended bill narrows that to about 20 conditions, including cancer, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
“Those are conditions that have been determined, in either other states or through research, to be benefited by medical marijuana treatment,” said the legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Diane Savino, of Staten Island.
Savino, a member of a group of breakaway Democrats that control the Senate with Republicans, says she has 39 votes in favor for the bill — only 32 are needed to pass legislation in the Senate.
Earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said his chamber would pass the legislation again if the Senate took up the bill. The Assembly has passed the measure each year since 2007.
A spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos says he is studying the issue. Co-leader Sen. Jeff Klein, one of the breakaway Democrats, is a co-sponsor of the bill. They control what legislation gets to the floor for a vote.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he would review the legislation if it passes.
A Siena College poll released last week found that 51 percent of New York voters support legalizing medical marijuana, while 26 percent said they prefer Cuomo’s plan to let 20 hospitals statewide provide medical marijuana to seriously ill patients. The poll also showed 21 percent of voters still want to keep marijuana illegal.
The revised legislation would also bar patients under the age of 21 from smoking the drug, though it could still be administered in oil form or through a vaporizer.
Medical marijuana is among a handful of issues expected to be taken up by the Legislature after a monthlong break concluded Monday.