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WBEN EXTRA: The Marijuana Debate

(AP)  Pope Francis condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment on Friday, lending his voice to a debate which is raging from the U.S. to Uruguay and beyond.

Francis told delegates to a drug-enforcement conference in Rome that even limited attempts to legalize recreational drugs “are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects.”

  New York is set to become the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana under an agreement announced by legislative leaders.

The Democratic-led Assembly passed the legislation 113-13 early Friday after an hour of debate.

Shortly after midnight, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said the bill would be voted on later in the day when Republican lawmakers had reviewed the legislation.

Skelos, of Long Island, said he planned to vote for the measure and believed there were enough votes to pass the bill in the upper chamber.

The so-called Compassionate Care Act would legalize certain forms of marijuana for severely ill patients. The legislation does not allow the drug to be sold in plant form or smoked, but it can be administered through a vaporizer or in an oil base.

Earlier in the negotiations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to ban smoking the drug, saying it was wrong for the state to promote smoking.

"In the end you have to balance the needs of many of the patients and the truth is we're coming to a point where less and less people smoke ... anyway," said bill sponsor Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat, on Thursday.

Marijuana could be prescribed for at least 10 diseases - including epilepsy, AIDS, ALS and neuropathy - under the direction of the state's health department. The health commissioner would

Just last month, Uruguay — next door to Francis’ native Argentina — approved selling marijuana cigarettes in pharmacies. Recreational marijuana is now legal in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, and Oregon may put the matter to a vote later this year.

Mewanhile, New York is on the verge of allowing widespread medical marijuana use under a doctor's supervision for certain diseases.

On The WBEN Liveline
Hear more with Castelfranco 

Orchard Park Mom Wendy Conte, on her medical marijuana crusade.

Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but possession of small amounts is not prosecuted and it is sold openly in “coffee shops.”

The pope's remarks come as New York State reached agreement to develop a system to distribute medical marijuana for the treatement of specific diseases, under a doctor's supervision.

The pope's remarks, while mainly targeted toward the growing use of recreational marijuana -- with legalization in states like Colorado for example-  also spoke out against the use of the drug for medical use.

"i think he has made it very clear he is against recreational marijuana and the use of Marijuana for medical purposes," says CBS's Sabina Castelfranco in Rome

Francis has frequently railed against the “evil” of drug addiction and has met with addicts on several occasions. When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he similarly devoted much of his pastoral care to addicts

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