New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, according to a new report from the New York Times.
Cuomo is expected to announce the executive action this week, granting some 20 hospitals the ability to prescribe the drug to patients suffering from “cancer, glaucoma or other diseases that meet standards to be set by the New York State Department of Health.”
The move by Cuomo represents not only the latest victory for marijuana reform advocates, but a landmark in New York drug law history. Once the home of the highly punitive “Rockefeller Drug Laws” enacted by former governor Nelson D. Rockefeller, New York already reduced some of the harshest mandatory minimum drug sentencing requirements with 2004’s Drug Law Reform Act, and this upcoming action by Cuomo may indicate a new approach to drug policy in the Empire State.
Activists and officials alike are heralding the announcement coming out of Albany. Democratic Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, told the New York Post, “I’m grateful that the governor recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana for tens of thousands of sick patients in New York.” Gabriel Saegh, the New York State director of the Drug Policy Institute, told the New York Daily News, “This is a great development. (Cuomo’s) last word on this was, ‘No, no, no. I’m thinking about it.’” Gottfried – the leading sponsor of the legislation – explained that the executive action is based on an abandoned 1980 state law that legalized medical marijuana. “There is support for medical marijuana in every part of the state. The bill passed the state Assembly four times with bipartisan support,” Gottfried said.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted last November found that 82% of respondents support legalization of medical marijuana. Following the governor’s actions, New York would become the 22nd state to legalize medical marijuana.