Tonawanda News

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January 5, 2014

Cuomo to allow medical pot use

Tonawanda News — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is prepared to announce his support for a limited use of marijuana in New York for medicinal purposes, sources told The New York Times. 

The reversal — Cuomo has long opposed medical marijuana — will be announced during Cuomo’s State of the State address in Albany on Wednesday, the Times reported. While other states have taken an increasingly liberal stance on marijuana, including Colorado where voters approved it for recreational use and thousands flocked to new state-regulated dispensaries Wednesday to buy the drug, New York remains one of the nation’s strictest states when it comes to drug offenses.

From 2002 to 2012, police across the state filed misdemeanor marijuana charges more than 450,000 times, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that advocates less stringent drug laws.

Officials said Cuomo is prepared to begin allowing medicinal marijuana to be prescribed at 20 hospitals across the state. Unlike other states, such as California, where patients can get a marijuana prescription for something as nebulous as a back ache, Cuomo’s plan would limit its prescription to cancer patients, those with glaucoma and other painful illnesses. The state Department of Health would be tasked with defining which diagnoses would qualify for a marijuana prescription.

At present, 20 states and the District of Columbia allow some form of medical marijuana. Washington state voters also approved recreational marijuana use but that law has yet to take effect.

A recent Sienna poll found 82 percent of New Yorkers favored medicinal marijuana use. 

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