Gov. Andrew Cuomo today said he’s changed his stance on medical marijuana in part because the state would have control over how the program is administered.
Cuomo plans in his State of the State address on Wednesday to announce the legalization of medical marijuana at 20 hospitals in New York and for limited diseases, such as cancer and glaucoma. He hasn’t detailed the locations or the specific regulations, but he will do it through executive order rather than through a new law adopted by the Legislature.
Cuomo said having the state Department of Health oversee the program would allow the state to quickly make any changes if there are problems. Twenty states have legalized medical marijuana.
“I feel comfortable with this approach,” Cuomo said. “Medical marijuana: I understand the upside. I also understand the downside. If you look at some of the states that have done marijuana, you’ll see the downside clearly.”
He added that, “What is the best way to initiate a process and learn about it and have the control so if you start to make a mistake, you can actually fix it? This mechanism, I think, affords us that.”
Cuomo had opposed the legalization of medical marijuana during his first three years in office, despite the measure being passed four times in the Democratic-led Assembly. It didn’t pass the Republican-controlled Senate, though, and now Cuomo is expected to bypass the Legislature and enact the regulations himself.
There’s a 1980 law that allows the state Health Department to approve controlled substances for patients with certain diseases.
“I’m not proposing a law,” Cuomo continued. “So it’s not the Legislature telling me what I have to do. And that gives me great comfort, because if it goes bad, we can correct or improve all within our own control.”