Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year announced plans to decriminalize low levels of marijuana in an effort to reduce the number of unnecessary stop-and-frisks and the chances a young person might wind up with a criminal record.
However, as Albany this week begins a renewed effort to pass legislation legalizing medical marijuana – a bill that already has passed in the Assembly but stalled in the Senate, Cuomo has offered very little support, The Buffalo News reported.
Marijuana has long been indicated as an effective pain reliever for more than 250 diseases and chronic conditions, from cancer to glaucoma to multiple sclerosis.
If the legislation passes, New York will join 18 other states in allowing doctors to write marijuana prescriptions for certain patients, who could then obtain the drug in limited supplies from state-controlled agents.
When asked last week whether he was sending mixed signals on the two marijuana policies, Cuomo said he was not.
“The two issues are completely separate and distinct,” said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor.
Mike Long, GOP party chairman, said his group is staunchly opposed to legalizing medical marijuana. He called it a gateway drug and said the state would be sending the wrong signal to young people if were decriminalized.
However, upstate New York resident Joel Peacock uses marijuana to relieve pain for his own medical condition blames the governor’s reticence around legalizing it for medicinal purposes on the state's ties with the pharmaceutical industry. He said the industry would suffer an enormous loss if patients opted for marijuana use over the more expensive prescription pain killers.
“Let’s forget about the politics. This is about people in pain,” Peacock said. “It’s got nothing to do with people being liberal or conservative or Democratic or Republican. It’s to help people.”