New York Gov. Cuomo To Support Medical Marijuana

In an upcoming address, New York's governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly plans to announce an executive action legalizing marijuana for some medical uses.

New York Gov. Cuomo To Support Medical Marijuana
Flickr / Scott Beale

New York's governor Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to give his annual State of the State address Wednesday. And a new report suggests the governor might have some uplifting news for proponents of medical marijuana.

According to The New York Times, Cuomo will announce a plan to legalize marijuana in the state for limited medical use. This will likely be through executive action, as marijuana legalization bills have repeatedly failed in the state's Republican Senate.

The measure would make New York the 21st state to relax its marijuana laws. Last year voters in Colorado and Washington approved measures to legalize recreational use of the drug. (Via WHEC)

Cuomo's plan won't go quite that far. The legalization will reportedly be based on a 1980 health law which allows the use of controlled substances, but only to treat patients with serious illnesses such as cancer and glaucoma. (Via YNN)

Still, it's a big step for the governor to take, especially since he's opposed medical marijuana before. A New York lobbyist for legalization calls the news "a huge turning point. ... The Senate has said it wouldn’t consider a medical marijuana law because the governor wouldn’t sign it, well now he will." (Via Bloomberg)

And Gov. Cuomo's longtime opposition to marijuana has been steadily eroding over the past year. In June 2012, the governor advocated decriminalizing public possession of small amounts of pot. (Via Time)

The governor's announcement may be a reaction to the shift in public sentiment in his state. A 2010 Quinnipiac poll found 75 percent of New Yorkers favor some allowances for medical use of the drug.

Peer pressure from his fellow north-eastern governors might also have been a factor. As Slate puts it, "it may have been getting increasingly embarrassing that Republican Gov. Chris Christie was able to put into effect a limited medical marijuana program in neighboring New Jersey."

During Wednesday's address, Cuomo is also likely to push for state spending limits and propose fresh property tax relief.