NEW YORK: Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the first step Wednesday toward making New York the 21st state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, announcing plans to let some hospitals distribute the drug to patients with “serious illnesses.”
The announcement in his state-of-the-state speech represents a shift for Cuomo, who had opposed legalizing the drug for any use. But most New Yorkers want their state to follow the lead of others that have relaxed marijuana laws, according to several polls — and Cuomo is up for reelection in November.
Cuomo briefly mentioned his medical marijuana plan deep into his address and indicated it would be a pilot program, not necessarily permanent. “Research suggests that medical marijuana can help manage the pain and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses,” he said, noting that 20 other states have allowed it to be prescribed for some illnesses.
He said New York would establish a program allowing “up to 20 hospitals” to distribute marijuana. “We will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of a medical marijuana system,” Cuomo said. He provided no other details.