Skelos softens on medical marijuana

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Dean Skelos. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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ALBANY—Dean Skelos has softened his opposition to some forms of medical marijuana, he told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Skelos, the Republican co-leader of the Senate majority, had previously said he opposed marijuana, but said today he's now open to legalizing marijuana-based oils and possibly vaporizers.

"My own personal feeling, I don’t like the idea of the smoking, public smoking," said Skelos, who did not commit to bringing any legislation to the floor.

"I think some people have made their case in terms of the oil, especially with kids that have hundreds of seizures a day," he said. "I think they’ve been very effective and I’m trying to learn a little bit more about the vaporizers. I don't know enough about it, but you know it's something I want to look into."

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In recent weeks, more than a half-dozen Republican senators openly announced their support for legalizing the drug for medical uses. Skelos' comments echoed those of Joe Robach, who cited children with seizures earlier this week, saying it was "hard to say no" to certain marijuana patients.

Skelos said his conference was "potentially" considering legislation that would go beyond a proposal from Governor Andrew Cuomo to authorize a narrow medical marijuana program through an existing state law.

"The question is whether the governor could do it through--what he’s recommended--through the executive order," Skelos said.

The Republican conference has shifted in its attitude toward the drug, according to Skelos.

"There’s no question some of our members have indicated their support for it, but at the appropriate time we’ll discuss it and see if you know, we take any action legislatively."

Skelos said the conference would continue to conference the bill.

"We’ll have another discussion on it," he said. "Some members will want to conference it and we will."