In 2014, the state of New York became the twenty-third state to pass the bill for the legalization medical marijuana. Governor Andrew Cuomo on marijuana legalization; had a huge role to play in passing the bill. Cuomo belongs to the Democratic Party and is the current Governor of New York.
The bill was sent to the Governor on the 24th June 2014 and had to be signed or vetoed by midnight. Tense last minute negotiation ensued between the governors and other leaders before a deal was made legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. It was decided that marijuana could be used as a drug but only to treat a limited number of diseases such as AIDS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer along with a few more.
This passing of the bill capped nearly two decades of efforts made around an issue of immense national importance.
Many of the leaders were of the opinion that the bill was of limited capacity but the Governor stipulated that it would only pass if certain conditions were met. There would be no smoking of marijuana. Governor Cuomo made it clear that the bill only allowed marijuana to be used in the form of a vaporizer, tincture or in an edible form. He maintained that this way they would be able to prevent it from becoming a ‘gateway drug’.
Certified doctors would be able to prescribe the drug and all patients would have to be registered with the state. The law allowed up to five companies to manufacture marijuana as a medical drug within the state, and these five companies were granted four dispensaries each through which the drug was to be sold.
Cuomo on marijuana legalization, made a statement in which he expressed his views on the matter. He said, “I do not favor legalized marijuana, I do believe it can be a gateway drug.” He then went on to say that regardless of this, he believed in the use of marijuana as a medical drug. He stated, “We did pass medical marijuana under very controlled circumstances because they have found the marijuana can be especially helpful in the treatment of certain diseases.”
According to state law, only ten diseases could be treated by the drug. The Governor went on record to say that people should not be using the marijuana drug to treat backaches or migraines. He said, “It’s very limited and controlled and I think that’s the right application.”
The bill would allow the Governor to suspend the program at any time, and had an expiration date of up to seven years after which it had to be officially renewed through the Legislature again.
Till the shaping of the bill, Governor Cuomo on marijuana legalization had been advocating the use of medical marijuana in hospitals and was actively working on a framework for the program. In January, as part of his own effort, he set up a very limited program that allowed marijuana to be distributed to the fatally ill patients. Cuomo set up the program within twenty hospitals and worked towards expanding it.
Shortly afterward came the bill which was primarily drafted by staunch medical marijuana advocates, Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. After facing initial reservation from some of the Conservatives, the bill found support and eventually rallied through.
Governor Cuomo exerted his influence and was able to get the support required to pass the bill. In a news conference the following day, he said, “Medical marijuana has the capacity to do a lot of good for a lot of people who are in pain and suffering. At the same time, it’s a difficult issue, because there are also risks that have to be averted; public-health, public-safety risks. And we believe this bill strikes the right balance.”