NY Gov. Cuomo to allow limited use of medical pot

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York will reportedly allow the limited use of medical marijuana for seriously ill patients under a plan the governor will announce in the next few days.

NEW YORK — New York will soon allow the limited use of medical marijuana for seriously ill patients under a plan the governor will announce in the next few days, the New York Times reported Saturday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has steadily resisted pressure to legalize marijuana, was expected to announce the plan at Wednesday's State of the State address, according to the newspaper's website.

A spokesman for Cuomo was not immediately available to comment on the report.

The newspaper said the policy will be far more restrictive than the laws in Colorado or California, where medical marijuana is available to people with conditions such as backaches.

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The move comes amid sharply shifting attitudes in the United States toward marijuana use.

Earlier this week, Colorado became the first state to regulate and sell marijuana for recreational use.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws in recent years allowing for various uses of medical marijuana — but only Colorado and Washington have decriminalized its recreational use.

Washington is not slated to open its first retail establishments until later in 2014.

Under Cuomo's plan, 20 hospitals across New York will be allowed to prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other serious diseases that meet standards to be set by the state Department of Health, the newspaper said.

Cuomo's executive action does not require legislative approval, but instead relies on a provision in a state public health law that allows for the use of controlled substances for patients with cancer and other serious illnesses, it said.

For years, critics have been calling on New York to ease what are considered some of the toughest drug laws in the nation that mandate long sentences for many drug offenders.

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