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New York may join a group of states that have loosened restrictions on marijuana: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of the drug for medicinal purposes.
The New York Times first reported the story. Here's more from the paper:
"The shift by Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who had long resisted legalizing medical marijuana, comes as other states are taking increasingly liberal positions on it — most notably Colorado, where thousands have flocked to buy the drug for recreational use since it became legal on Jan. 1.
"Mr. Cuomo's plan will be far more restrictive than the laws in Colorado or California, where medical marijuana is available to people with conditions as mild as backaches. It will allow just 20 hospitals across the state to prescribe marijuana to patients with cancer, glaucoma or other diseases that meet standards to be set by the New York State Department of Health."
The newspaper reported that the state hopes to have infrastructure in place to begin selling medical marijuana this year, but it's unclear when the drug will be available to those with serious illnesses. Cuomo is expected to make the announcement Wednesday during his State of the State address.
Medical marijuana is already available in neighboring New Jersey. It's also available in 19 other states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, Colorado and Washington permit marijuana use for recreational purposes.
Many of these new rules run counter to federal law, which bans the use of marijuana in any form. But as NPR's Carrie Johnson reported last year, Attorney General Eric Holder has told federal prosecutors not to focus on casual marijuana users. That comes amid record public support for the legalization of the drug.