The plan, to be announced during his Wednesday address, will bypass the state Legislature in calling for 20 hospitals across the state to dispense medical marijuana. The plan invokes a 1980 law allowing research into marijuana therapy for "patients who are involved in a life-threatening or sense-threatening situation," such as cancer and glaucoma, the New York Times reported.
The plan is not public and details are few, but the governor's aides told the Times hospitals would have to apply to the state Health Department to become dispensaries and that the medical marijuana would not be allowed for run-of-the-mill maladies such as backache, but terminal cases and serious conditions such as multiple sclerosis, severe pediatric illness and cancer.
The state Department of Health would develop the regulations for the plan, aides said.
State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Democrat from Manhattan, said he was pleased Cuomo had recognized the "legitimacy" of medical marijuana. Cuomo had not supported medical marijuana in the past.
However, Gottfried said he would still push his own bill in the Legislature because it was more comprehensive.
Republican leaders offered no comment because they said the plan had not been made public.
Nearly two dozen U.S. states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.