NY Gov. Cuomo Shifts Stance on Medical Marijuana

Announcement this week will allow hospitals to prescribe for those suffering from serious illnesses

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Brennan Linsley / AP

Marijuana plants mature inside a grow house, later to be harvested, packaged and sold at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary, which is to open as a recreational retail outlet at the start of 2014, in Denver, on Dec. 27, 2013.

Gov. Andrew M Cuomo is expected to announce this week an executive action allowing the use of drugs by residents suffering from a serious illness, The New York Times reports.

New York has long been one of the most punitive states for drug offenders. The announcement would follow some 20 states that have eased restrictions on marijuana, including Colorado, where recreational use became legal on Jan. 1. However, New York’s proposal will allow only¬†20 hospitals statewide to prescribe marijuana to people afflicted with cancer, glaucoma and other diseases approved by the state’s Department of Health.

Though a Siena College survey last year found that 82 percent of New York residents approved the use of medical marijuana, four bills have passed the State Assembly only to get held up in the Senate.

Gov. Cuomo is expected to make the announcement Wednesday in his State of the State address. The state aims to put the proposal into practice this year, but it’s unclear on a timeline of when it would be available to patients.

[New York Times]