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New York marijuana laws may be relaxed

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to sign an executive order to allow medical marijuana use in New York.

By Gabrielle Levy
New York marijuana laws may be relaxed
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce plans to relax limits on marijuana to allow for medical use at his annual State of the State address Wednesday.

The governor's office said Cuomo plans to use an executive action, through a provision in a 1980 public health law, to bypass the state legislature.

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“The governor didn’t want to wait,” said Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Moving forward with this interim step.”

Under the new policy, medical marijuana would become available to people with serious illnesses from 20 hospitals across the state.

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But as pleased as advocates are with this step, many said the move was too narrow compared to the medical marijuana laws on the books in 20 other states.

"It's clear he realizes marijuana can be helping people that are seriously ill," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, a nationwide advocacy group. "Cuomo had said previously he felt he could evolve on this issue, so it's nice to see he's evolving, but he still has some catching up to do with his constituents."

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"We're talking hundreds, maybe topping out to a few thousand" people who would be eligible under Department of Health guidelines, said Robert Robinson, co-director of the New York Cannabis Alliance, adding he feared the limited scope of an executive order would make applying for a license and obtaining the drug a burdensome process.

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[PIX 11] [Albany Times Union]

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