The dominos for the legalization of marijuana in the U.S. are slowly falling, state by state, and now New York is joining the cool kids.
On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that 20 hospitals in New York would begin providing medical marijuana to patients. In the annual State of State address, Cuomo had this to say:
"Research suggests that medical marijuana can help manage pain and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses. We will establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana, and we will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and the feasibility of a medical marijuana system."
Essentially, New York's health department will set up guidelines regarding prescription and pick which hospitals can participate. These hospitals will then form panels of people who will decide, on a person-by-person basis, which patients qualify to receive medical marijuana as treatment.
Richard Gottfried, a democratic State Assemblyman hailing from Manhattan who has been an outspoken proponent of the legalization of marijuana in New York, said that while Cuomo's announcement signaled a "limited and cumbersome program," it was a step in the right direction.
The move by Cuomo comes soon after Colorado decided to begin selling medical marijuana to anyone over the age of 21 for recreational use. Other states that allow for the sale of medical marijuana include New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont, all of which happen to border New York. It seems that legalization is a growing trend in the U.S.
Others, however, think Cuomo had ulterior motives with the announcement. William Foster, president of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, said he thinks "serious questions can be raised about using a political vehicle to achieve the use of a prescribable medication in America."
Cuomo is moving ahead with his plan despite approval via legislature, but according to Friedman, it's a completely legal move thanks to a law passed back in 1980. "(Cuomo) can take (this step) without the need for further legislation," the Manhattan legislator said, "but to have a truly comprehensive and well-working system will take legislation." -- Max Weinstein