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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.