Changes to Medical Marijuana Bill Make Vote Likely

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Recent changes to the State Senate's version of the Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize marijuana for medical purposes, make a vote likely, according to several legislative sources.

The medical marijuana bill has been stalled in the Senate for several years.

This year, extremely high public poll numbers and growing support among some Republicans have shifted the dynamic in favor of legalization.

The bill's sponsor on Friday made changes to her bill, which now specifically says which diseases would be allowed to be treated with medical marijuana. Among them, cancer, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy and diabetes.

The new version of the bill also outlaws smoking marijuana if you're under the age of 21. Finally, the changes strengthen regulations on dispensaries and growers.

Supporters hope the changes will convince Senate leaders to at least allow a vote.

2 On Your Side reached out to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. His office provided a statement:

Senator Skelos has indicated that he is seeking additional information and will continue to study this issue. Like the Governor, we are taking a cautious approach.

Wendy Conte, whose daughter Anna suffers from a severe form of epilepsy that causes her to have uncontrollable seizures, met with Skelos Monday afternoon. Other children with Anna's condition have shown remarkable progress using medical marijuana.

Conte said Skelos "showed compassion and sympathy" and assured her that "something will be done this legislative session" to help children with seizures get medical marijuana.

That treatment is less controversial than other forms of medical marijuana, because it's given as an oil, and the plant is specially grown to contain very little THC, which is the ingredient in pot that makes someone high.

Local State Senators Patrick Gallivan, Mike Ranzenhofer and Cathy Young all say they would support a measure to allow medical marijuana to treat children with seizures. Ranzenhofer reiterated that Monday when he spoke with 2 On Your Side by phone.

"I'm focused on helping these children," he said.

Senator Gallivan's office released the following statement:

My office is reviewing the proposed changes to this legislation. In an effort to best and most properly represent my constituents, my position on medical marijuana will continue to be based on medical and scientific research.


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