ALBANY-Senate Finance Committee chairman John DeFrancisco said today he has no plans to move a bill that would legalize medical marijuana out of his committee, saying too many uncertainties remain about the drug.
"The Savino bill will not come out of my committee, the Finance Committee," he said. "You don't have any kind of reasonable research on the effects. You have people coming in here every day trying to ban e-cigarettes and use of tobacco in other ways."
DeFrancisco said he and other members of the Republican conference have concerns about the legislation as the session nears an end next week. He said there may be support for legislation that would not allow medical marijuana to be smoked, but to be used in other forms, such as oil, mainly to help children with seizures or other debilitating diseases.
"There has been no test studies done as to the adverse effects of smoking marijuana because every other drug I know of is approved through an FDA process, and the governor has an alternative, namely doing research and determining whether the beneficial effects, if any, are sufficient to outweigh the negative effects," DeFrancisco continued.
DeFrancisco's stance may be major blow for medical marijuana, one of the key pieces of legislation that could be decided before the session ends next Thursday.
Savino has vowed that she has the votes to pass the measure in the Senate, and several Republicans have backed it -- including three who are co-sponsors. But whether the Republican and IDC coalition, which she is a member of, lets the bill to the floor is uncertain.
Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, one of the key Republican supporters, said he hopes the measure passes. Savino and Assembly Heath Committee chairman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, have recently reconciled the bills in their respective chambers.
"I think there have been some changes made to the bill that will satisfy all concerns," Grisanti said. "To me, the bill has a lot of regulations, probably the most stringent in the nation."