EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo surprised many with his announcement that New York hospitals would soon utilize medical marijuana in a limited capacity, residents and officials alike have expressed approval of the initiative.
According to reports, Gov. Cuomo intends to legalize medical marijuana in approximately 20 hospitals around the state, under extreme restrictions. It will be a limited-use program that will be made possible through an executive order.
By utilizing his executive powers, he can bypass the legislature, where similar bills have been eliminated more than once in the Senate.
The drug would only be available with a prescription, to treat extreme or grave illnesses such as cancer and glaucoma. Prescriptions may be given for additional diseases, which will be oversaw by the state’s Health Department.
State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) praised the governor’s decision, noting that the medical benefits of the drug outweigh any potential cons for patients. She added that it would be important that the restrictions on the drug are stringent.
“The medical benefits that can be derived from marijuana are far too great to ignore any longer. There are too many people suffering from a variety of diseases where medical marijuana would make a huge difference in their quality of life,” she said. “Of course, there needs to be regulation and careful monitoring of how the drug is used.”
Access to prescriptions for medical marijuana in New York is expected to be much more strict and restrictive than other states. In certain states, one can ascertain a prescription with “soreness,” and Colorado has legalized recreational use of the drug.
“One area I’ve always felt like New York was falling behind was in the use of medical marijuana,” Eastchester resident Mark George, 57, said on Tuesday. “Its usefulness was proven in California and other states years ago. My mother suffered toward the end of her life. If this was something that could have helped her, I’m all for it.”
Presently, medical marijuana is legal to various degrees in 20 states and Washington D.C. In New Rochelle, Mel Davis added that this is a sign America is becoming a “more progressive country.”
“We’re finally seeing our country’s officials taking the necessary steps to benefit their constituents,” she said. “Nobody loses in this scenario. The deathly ill can find some comfort and the state can take in a few extra [dollars.]”
This past year, David Buchwald (D-93), co-sponsored a bill in the assembly that would permit medical marijuana. While his plan was more expansive than Cuomo’s proposal, he nevertheless expressed the governor’s ambitious move.
“It’s time for New York to put compassion on the front burner when it comes to providing pain relief for folks facing terminal or debilitating illnesses,” he said in an interview Monday. “People can have a debate over overall marijuana legality, but it should be under a physician’s care.”
How do you feel about Cuomo’s plan to legalize medical marijuana? Continue the conversation in the comments section.