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Key lawmaker says medical marijuana will happen

Associated Press Updated: May 28, 2014 at 5:32 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The future of a medical marijuana bill in New York rests with a top-ranking Republican senator who opposes the measure, but says he might agree to some other version of it before the session ends in June.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, chairman of the finance committee, said Wednesday he is opposed to the "Compassionate Care Act" passed by the Assembly. But he's open to a bill proposed by Republican Sen. Phil Boyle that would prohibit smoking the drug while allowing its use through a vaporizer, oils or edibles.

The bill that passed in the Assembly would allow patients with one of 20 illnesses to use the drug. It cleared a major hurdle last week with passage in the Senate health committee and now awaits consideration by the finance committee.

"It's going to be a conference decision whether it goes through the finance committee," DeFrancisco, of Syracuse, told The Associated Press. "The conference is going to make a decision as to which of the bills is going to be voted on."

DeFrancisco went on to say that the medical marijuana bill hasn't been discussed in conference and that the majority of his conference is not in favor of it, preferring Boyle's bill.

If the legislation clears the finance committee, it still faces opposition from Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who can block a bill using his veto power.

Skelos, of Long Island, hasn't shown interest in the measure, citing his opposition to smoking the drug. But he has said he is open to marijuana-based oils.

"It's something that's going to happen, my guess toward the end of session one way or the other," DeFrancisco said.

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