By KENNY KRAUSEEN, Associated PressNew York – New York lawmakers are weighing whether to legalize medical marijuana, one of the nation’s most hotly debated laws.
Lawmakers have passed a bill that would give patients and growers a green light to apply for licenses.
But the bill would still need approval from the state’s Attorney General, who has been criticized for his role in the legal battle over the legislation.
Andrew Cuomo, who supports legalization, told the Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee on Monday that he supports the bill.
“The people have spoken,” Cuomo said.
“They said they want medical marijuana.”
Lawmakers in New York approved medical marijuana in November and it will be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana at home beginning July 1.
It is still illegal to smoke marijuana or grow it.
Medical marijuana is now legal in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has been investigating whether states with medical marijuana laws have failed to follow the federal Controlled Substances Act.
It’s unclear whether the three strikes statute will affect New York’s medical marijuana program.
State Sen. Joe DiMaggio, D-Queens, has said the three-strikes law is needed to protect police officers who are attacked by someone with a history of mental illness.
He also said he hopes to introduce a bill in the next few days that would legalize medical cannabis.
State Assemblyman John Faso, D – New Hyde Park, who co-sponsored the bill, said he supports a medical marijuana bill.
He’s also opposed to the three strike law.
He said he would push to legalize it in his district, but said he’d be careful about pushing a bill he said would be “bad for the community.”
State Assemblywoman Carolyn Maloney, D, Bronx, has also introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in the state.
She said she supports medical marijuana but would not support decriminalizing it because it could cause problems with school enrollment and public safety.
Law enforcement officials in New Jersey and New York City have said they will not enforce a new law prohibiting people under 18 from possessing or growing medical marijuana because of the new law.
The three strikes legislation passed the New York state Assembly last year and the Assembly approved it in December.
It has passed the State Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, all of which are controlled by Democrats.
Cuomo is expected to sign the legislation, but it could face challenges from his Republican colleagues in the Legislature.
It could take more than two years to get the bill through both chambers.