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New York to Legalize Medical Marijuana Via Cuomo’s Executive Order

By Anna Wilcox — 1/6/2014

Politicians are gearing up for November’s elections, and medical marijuana patients are reaping the benefit. Though previously opposed to cannabis, medical or not, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to issue an executive order legalizing medicinal cannabis in New York. Cuomo is up for re-election this coming November. 

The governor’s change of heart speaks to the influence the marijuana issue will have on political maneuvers over the next few election cycles. Earlier this year Cuomo told reporters, “I do not support medical marijuana. I understand the pros and cons. I understand the argument. We are looking at it, but at this point, I do not support medical marijuana.” 

Apparently, the governor has spent a little more time weighing the pros and cons he was so familiar with last April. 

New York’s legalization is a huge win for cannabis activists and medical patients, yet Cuomo’s legalization plan is a bit different from the models adopted by other states. Rather than allow individual doctors to authorize the use of medicinal cannabis, the governor plans to approve up to 20 hospitals to prescribe marijuana for certified illnesses, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. 

Plans for creating access points such as dispensaries and care centers are still a bit unclear, but the state hopes to develop the necessary infrastructure within a year. The public will hear the official announcement of Cuomo’s decision during Wednesday’s State of the State address, and patients hope that more information will be given at that time. 

While 20 states have already legalized medical cannabis, New Yorkers have a long road ahead of them when it comes to creating a functioning, well-regulated medical cannabis program. From developing methods to track medicinal plants and products, to creating regulations for child-proof packaging, an executive order is really only the tip of the iceberg in an up-and-coming industry. 

Photo via Andrew Cuomo's Facebook page