ARMONK, N.Y. – Legalizing medical marijuana in a limited capacity would help New York State answer some of the technical questions involved with supplying and regulating the controlled substance, Assemblyman David Buchwald (D – White Plains) told the Daily Voice on Monday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to issue an executive order legalizing medical marijuana for specific conditions at 20 hospitals, which have not been named. He will make the announcement during his State of the State address Wednesday, according to a report by the New York Times.
Buchwald said Monday that he supports the initiative.
“It’s time for New York to put compassion on the front burner when it comes to providing pain relief for folks facing terminal or debilitating illnesses,” said Buchwald, who represents District 93, which includes Bedford, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and White Plains.
The Democrat-led state Assembly has passed four pieces of legislation that would have legalized medical marijuana. All have failed to pass the state Senate, and Cuomo had been opposed to the idea.
Monday, he said he would be comfortable with an approach whereby the Department of Health oversees the program. This, he said, would allow changes to be made quickly if mistakes are made. Buchwald said this initiative will help the state answer the unknowns, like identifying the source of the medical marijuana.
While the governor said he doesn’t think there is “legislative hunger” for more comprehensive legislation, Buchwald said he would like to see such a bill.
“I would prefer, in the end, the assembly approach,” he said. “But, I don’t begrudge any movement in this direction.”
The former White Plains councilman said some states that have legalized marijuana are “too lax” with their regulations. He said marijuana should be used for legitimate purposes.
Most of the 20 states that have legalized marijuana have done so for medical use. However, last week Colorado became the first state to sell it for recreational purposes. It legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, as did Washington state.
“People can have a debate over overall marijuana legality. But, it should be under proper physician’s care,” Buchwald said.
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance federally under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use. While marijuana remains illegal federally, the U.S. Department of Justice has said it will defer challenges to state legalization laws.
Watch Buchwald's comments on medical marijuana in an interview with The Daily Voice here.