Governor Cuomo talks medical marijuana during State of the State address

Updated: 01/08/2014 5:09 PM
Created: 01/08/2014 5:04 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

One of the topics we expected to hear more about during Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address was his plan to legalize marijuana for medical use in New York State. Cuomo did mention it, saying it could help manage pain for people with serious illnesses.

Many people were waiting to hear the full medical marijuana plan but he kind of glossed over it, spending less than 30 second talking about the controversial issue and it got a muted response from the gallery after he did. Governor Cuomo said, “We’d establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana and we will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and the feasibility of a medical marijuana system."

Nevertheless, Governor Cuomo pointed to 20 other states that are already allowing medical marijuana saying it would help manage the pain for people suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses. But groups like the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence point to the fact that it lacks FDA approval. Opponents of medical marijuana argue it can be abused and addictive and could also present public safety issues.

In New York, the Assembly has passed the Compassionate Care Act that would legalize medical marijuana but it has stalled in the senate. Supporters of its medicinal use like the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester say they are encouraged that the governor has taken a position on it.

Holly Anderson said, “Marijuana is just a plant. We really need to grow up about this and understand that there are properties in this particular plant that are going to change lives."

Senator Ted O’Briend said, “This may be a good go between between the two competing interests, to allow people to have some relief from suffering under the supervision of specific hospitals and yet not encourage smoking of marijuana which leads to other kinds of health problems." O'Brien says he never fully embraced smoking of marijuana for medicinal purposes, his objection being the delivery system.

We had hoped to hear more about which hospitals might be involved in this, or which diseases would be eligible for this pain treatment. But the governor provided no details today.


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