Cuomo to legalize medical marijuana in New York: Report

(File/Reuters)
The governor is looking at legalizing marijuana in New York state. Credit: Reuters

In a surprise reversal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected this week to announce an executive action that would allow the limited use of medical marijuana by people who are seriously ill.

The governor will detail his plans in his state of the state speech on Wednesday. The executive order will bypass the legislature to create an interim medical marijuana program based on a 1980 law allowing the use of controlled substances in treating serious illnesses. The New York Times first reported the plans Saturday.

“The program will involve distributing medical marijuana through 20 hospitals statewide to patients who meet a narrow list of qualifying conditions,” the Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement.

The decision would add New York to the growing list of states to lift restrictions on marijuana in some capacity, making it the 21st to do so. Cuomo’s speech comes just a week after the drug became legal for recreational use in Colorado.

Local pro-legalization politicians hailed the report as a crucial step toward future legalization on a broader scale.

“I’m thrilled to learn that Gov. Cuomo’s views on this issue are evolving,” said Democratic state Sen. Liz Krueger, who introduced the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in December, which sought to legalize and tax marijuana in a manner similar to the regulation of alcohol.

“Many of the states that have pursued medical marijuana are now moving toward full tax-and-regulate systems, which are ultimately more practical, fairer and better for taxpayers. But in the meantime, Gov. Cuomo’s proposal is a very positive step.”

In March of last year, state Sen. Diane Savino first introduced a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state under the Compassionate Care Act. At the time, Gov. Cuomo had stated his opposition to legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Together with Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, Savino sponsored December hearings on the bill, which has passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly four times but has yet to reach the more conservative Senate.

“The logjam in the Republican-controlled state Senate has made New York the only state in the Northeast without a medical marijuana program — so New Yorkers continue to suffer while residents in neighboring states can gain much-needed relief,” said Gabriel Sayegh, the New York State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

“That’s not acceptable. We agree with Gov. Cuomo – New York should have the best medical marijuana program in the country, and we’re going to double our efforts to get the Senate to finally pass the Compassionate Care Act so we can deliver it to the governor for his signature.”

New Yorkers overwhelmingly support medical marijuana. A poll conducted in May 2013 by Siena College Research Institute and Drug Policy Alliance found that 82 percent of state and 79 percent of city registered voters support medical marijuana, with equal support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Follow Emily Johnson on Twitter @emilyjreports


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

TIPS: How to take great photos during 'Manhattanhenge'

Grab your camera and make the perfect picture this Saturday.

National

Seinfeld emoji cound be available next week

Get your puffy shirts and your marble rye ready, America. Seinfeld emoji could become available as early as next week.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures July 11,…

A block party in Times Square, Bastille Day celebrations and a festival will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend.

Local

Thousands come to pay respects to fallen NYC…

Thousands turned out to say farewell to fallen firefighter Gordon Ambelas at St. Clare’s Church in Staten Island this morning.

Movies

Interview: Matt Reeves on directing 'Dawn of the…

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" director Matt Reeves discusses his love for the franchise, working with actors as apes and the weight of 3-D cameras.

Television

Final season of 'Glee' will be only 13…

The final season of "Glee" will officially be only 13 episodes, instead of the usual 22.

Entertainment

Complex characters, juicy scripts boost Netflix's Emmy nominations

The unconventional approach to TV at Netflix netted 31 Emmy nominations, a major achievement after plunging into original programing just last year.

Entertainment

Actor Josh Duhamel dons bunny suit to encourage…

The former Transformers star and husband to singer Fergie took to the Venice Beach boardwalk in California in a bright pink, Christmas-story inspired bunny suit Wednesday to help spread the…

NFL

Which Jets player has the best odds at…

Metro New York asked Bovada.LV to rank the top three contenders for the NFL MVP on the Jets.

World Cup

Argentina prevails in penalties, advances to final

The drama never seems to subside as the World Cup finally has its final two.

MLB

A Joffrey Ballet dancer threw the most beautiful…

http://youtu.be/Hg61JOZJrYM?t=29s While asked to throw a first pitch at a baseball game can be a treacherous and/or embarrassing experience (see Cent, 50), sometimes everything can…

World Cup

World Cup semifinals preview: Holland vs. Argentina

The second semifinal pits another South American soccer power against a European one.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: Sexual headaches can be…

Sexual headaches: an under-discussed health issue Location: U.S. Results: If getting frisky brings on a headache, you’re not alone. Headaches associated with sexual activity represent a…

Food

Head to FiDi for free Chia Pods from…

They may have been last summer's darlings, but chia seeds have definitely not gone out of style. A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, they…

Wellbeing

Stop thinking your diabetes risk begins above a…

When it comes to diabetes research, a new study says black and Asian adults may be at risk for developing diabetes at a lower weight…

Food

Christian Siriano inspires Magnum's color-blocked dessert

Christian Siriano, chef Andrew Carmellini and Magnum team up to create "America's Most Fashionable Chocolate Dessert."