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State Medical Marijuana Bill Would Ban Use by People Under 21

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: State Medical Marijuana Bill Would Ban Use by People Under 21
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Last week, the medical marijuana bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, passed through the state Senate's Health Committee.

Supporters of the bill said that was its biggest obstacle. It now heads to the Finance Committee, and then possibly the full Senate where its chances look good.

"Yes, I am absolutely confident if it gets out of Finance. Because there is support in all three conferences for the Compassionate Care Act. And there is no real logical argument against it," said state Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island.

But while the bill has more Republican support in the state Senate than ever before, there is still opposition.

"I'm not confident at this point that it's going to come up. There are still individuals who are looking to put further limitations on it. Particularly in the area of smoking," said state Sen. Tom O'Mara, R-Elmira.

The latest amendment to the bill bans smoking of marijuana for any patients under 21.

But some Republicans say that's still not good enough.

"I believe we've achieved all that we can on the issue of smoking. We restrict it to those under the age of 21. It's prohibited expressly," Savino said.

This week, a different version of the bill passed the full Assembly, as it has many times in the past.

"We are touch-and-go, which is a lot closer than we've ever been. So, I'm optimistic but sometimes close but no cigar," said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had proposed a much narrower program earlier this year that appears to be dead. He has expressed support for medical marijuana but has not explicitly stated that he would sign the Senate's version of the bill.

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