NEW YORK: After making national headlines for his support of medical marijuana, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State only briefly mentioned his medical marijuana plan. Cuomo administration officials said that the program would involve distributing medical marijuana through 20 hospitals statewide, and the Department of Health would be charged with promulgating regulations.
Cuomo initially said he would share details about the plan during his state of the state address, but instead provided only limited comment. The Governor’s policy briefing book, published during his speech, outlines what amounts to a medical marijuana research program, not the comprehensive system that patients need.
Critical questions remain as yet unanswered– such as, which patients would be eligible, or where the marijuana for the program would come from. Administration officials have suggested they would obtain marijuana from the federal government or from supplies seized by law enforcement, but those options, while specifically outlined in the 1980 Olivieri law, are both unlikely and pose significant safety risks to patients. Additionally, public and private hospitals may be resistant to participating in a state program that instructs them to violate federal law.
Patients and advocates were disappointed that the Governor did not make a commitment to support the comprehensive legislation that has passed the Assembly four times and would truly offer patients the medicine they need.