New York State Will Loosen Marijuana Laws

    January 4, 2014

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that he is planning an executive action that would allow limited use of marijuana legally in the state. Cuomo, who had long resisted legalizing medical marijuana, seems to be coming around as other states are also loosening their laws, with Colorado being the first state to sell marijuana legally starting January 1st.

The New York Times reports that usage will be limed to only 20 hospitals across the state, and only prescribed to those with serious illnesses, such as cancer and glaucoma. The official statement will come Wednesday at Cuomo’s annual State of the State address. NY Times suggests that the change of heart is an effort to boost popularity – which will most likely work. It’s an election year for the governor, and polls show that 82% of New Yorkers support medical marijuana.

This new plan of action also arrives as advocates have been strongly criticizing New York’s strict marijuana laws, which in the last ten years, has led to 450,000 misdemeanor charges. Instead of waiting on legislation, Cuomo plans on utilizing a provision in NY public health law known as the Antonio G. Oliveri Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Program. This program allows for the controlled use of marijuana for cancer and glaucoma patients — a law that has already been in place in the state for 30 years.

It’s still too early to say when exactly marijuana will be available to patients, but the state hopes to have the infrastructure in place later this year. There’s much to be done before the program is operational – for one, participating hospitals will need to be chosen. And an even bigger hurdle: federal law prohibits growing marijuana in New York, even for medicinal purposes, so the state will have to find an outside source to supply its program. Who ever thought that the entire state of New York would have to find itself a pot dealer?

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