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January 17, 2014

LEFFLER: Medical marijuana doesn't go far enough

Tonawanda News — Last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a lot of headlines with his State of the State Address. Different things stuck with different people, but the one that most caught my eye was the topic of medical marijuana. 

The governor reached into the books to find a law from three decades ago that gave him the ability to — by executive decree — allow as many as 20 hospitals across the state to dispense marijuana to people with certain severe illnesses as an “experimental” research project.

I put “experimental” in quotes just because it’s funny.

According to Cuomo, people with cancer, glaucoma and possibly some other “life-threatening or sense-threatening” conditions could seek to get marijuana through studies based at hospitals yet to be named, with “stringent research protocols and eligibility requirements.”

Cancer and glaucoma are specifically named. Other than that, it’s a craps shoot. What about all the other things that doctors and scientists have said medical marijuana could help with? What about multiple sclerosis, a subject near and dear to my heart? What about epilepsy, Tourette’s, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, migraines, nausea, eating disorders? What about anxiety or restlessness? What about people who just plain feel better when they smoke a joint?

New York has a reputation for being a wacky liberal state. We’re bluer than blue. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that gay marriage was recognized here. And we’re still trying to figure out legalizing medical marijuana when 19 other states (and the District of Columbia) already have it on the books. There are two states — Colorado and Washington — that have OK’d it just for pleasure.

How can we possibly be behind Colorado and Washington?

I want to applaud Gov. Cuomo for making a first step, assuming that’s really what he is trying to do. I’d like to think that a guy name Cuomo would have a radical liberal agenda to turn us all into pot-smoking, tree-hugging, gay-marrying hippies. But I doubt it.

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