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Report: Cuomo Reverses Field, Will Legalize Medical Marijuana

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Andrew Cuomo's reported plan to legalize medical marijuana represents an about-face for the Democratic governor.

As WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola reported, New York, however, will not become like California, where medical marijuana is allowed for a back ache.

Cuomo, who had previously opposed legalizing medical marijuana, will announce an executive action in his State of the State address Wednesday that will permit just 20 hospitals to prescribe pot for patients with cancer, glaucoma or other serious diseases or conditions, according to the New York Times.

Report: Cuomo Reverses Field, Will Legalize Medical Marijuana

Twenty states and the District of Columbia currently allow medical marijuana.

A Siena College poll last year found that 82 percent of New Yorkers surveyed were in favor of legalzing medical marijuana.

The Drug Policy Alliance, which was briefed on the Cuomo plan Saturday, said it would be a huge change, but New York should still enact legislation authorizing a state medical marijuana program that has been blocked so far by the state Senate's Republicans.

"This is a good development as an interim step,''said Gabriel Sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. After the briefing, he said the timing was still unclear as well as precisely who will have access to the program.

The Cuomo administration did not respond to requests from The Associated Press for comment.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat, and Democratic state Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island have recently held hearings on a bill they are sponsoring called the Compassionate Care Act,' which would regulate and tax medical marijuana. It has previously passed in the Assembly, but failed to get through the Senate.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, another Manhattan Democrat, has been pushing legislation to legalize and tax recreational use of marijuana, arguing state policy outlawing the drug has been costly in terms of law enforcement resources and the futures of people convicted of crimes.

New York actually has a provision in its public health law allowing for medical marijuana. New York City Councilman Antonio Olivieri, who died of cancer in 1980 at age 39, had lobbied for state medical marijuana use for therapeutic research. The provision was passed, but never implemented.

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