New York had traditionally been one of the more conservative states when it comes to its position on marijuana but that stance may be about to change. A new initiative put forward by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposes to use administrative powers to ensure that some hospitals can dispense marijuana for medical purposes.
Gov Cuomo is set to officially announce the details of his somewhat controversial proposal in a speech this coming Wednesday. Controversial, because it represents a complete about-turn for Cuomo, who had previously been a vocal opponent of the distribution of marijuana for medical use.
Although the new initiative goes some way to relax the antiquated marijuana laws in the state, it doesn't go nearly as far as other states like Colorado and California. In New York, marijuana will remain officially illegal and will only be prescribed for chronic pain, treatment of the effects of cancer chemotherapy and some other conditions.
The new stance does reflect the fact that New York is slowly changing its attitude to the use of soft drugs, like marijuana. These days, possession of small amounts of marijuana is considered only a low-level crime and is subject to a small fine.
Gabriel Sayegh, the state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said: "This is a good development as an interim step," referring to the fact that it was unknown at this time who precisely would have access to the program.
Two people at the head of the Compassionate Care Act, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Democratic Sen. Diane Savino, want the relaxation of the laws to go a step further, and completely regulate and tax the distribution of marijuana.
What the exact nature of the final legislation will be is not clear. The major question is about the implementation. Will patients who need medical marijuana be able to receive it legally?