New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that he intends to launch
a plan to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. The announcement
came as part of his state of the state address, and represents a shift
from his previous stance on the issue. He insisted that the plan was merely
a pilot program, and gave no indication that he would support legislation
to legalize it on a permanent basis.
The pilot program will ostensibly begin with up to 20 hospitals across
the state being authorized to distribute the
drug to people who have “serious illnesses.” Despite the liberal
notions New York is reputed to have, it has not joined the growing cadre
of states that have legalized medicinal marijuana. (New Jersey, California,
Connecticut, Nevada and Massachusetts are examples.)
On January 1, 2014, Colorado became the first state in the United States
where legally sanctioned sales of marijuana for recreational use took
place. The historic date came as a result of a 2012 voter approved initiative
to legalize the purchase and use of small amounts of the drug. The state
of Washington, which approved a similar measure, is slated to allow marijuana
sales later this year.
Under federal law, marijuana is still listed as a schedule I drug, which
is described as a substance with highly addictive properties that have
little (if any) medical use. However, the justice department has pledged
to treat low level offenders differently after years of jailing people
based on drug possession.
Despite the change in charging protocols at the federal level, drug possession
charges are still prominent in New Jersey.
Source: LA Times.com, “Medical marijuana: New York Gov. proposes pilot program,” Tina Susman, January 8, 2014