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NY Gov. proposes pilot program for medicinal marijuana

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

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