New York poised to legalize medical marijuana

In Regulatory, Top Stories by David Silverberg

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York will announce this week plans to loosen the restriction marijuana laws to make the plant available to those with specific illnesses.

Cuomo’s initiative will be more restrictive than medical marijuana laws passed in states such as California and Nevada. The plan will allow “just 20 hospitals across the state to prescribe marijuana to patients with cancer, glaucoma or other diseases that meet standards to be set by the New York State Department of Health,” as the New York Times writes.

New York’s Health Department will create rules that limit pot use to patients with “life threatening’’ or “sense threatening” conditions.

New York intends to build the infrastructure in place this year to begin dispensing medical marijuana, but it is too soon to say when it will actually be available to patients, the Times adds.

An interesting wrinkle is how Cuomo will use an executive action, thereby  bypassing the Republican-led state Senate, which has blocked medical marijuana bills in the past, as the Verge writes.

State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, (D-Manhattan) praised Cuomo’s plans as a good first step.

“I’m grateful that the governor recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana for tens of thousands of sick patients in New York,” said Gottfried, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee.

To date, 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana.