Andrew Cuomo

In a huge move Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is set to unilaterally bring medical marijuana to New York. From the New York Times:

Joining a growing group of states that have loosened restrictions on marijuana, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York plans this week to announce an executive action that would allow limited use of the drug by those with serious illnesses, state officials say. [...]

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.

This is a big deal because New York is the third most populous state and in a single move Cuomo will greatly expand the number of Americans who can theoretically get medical marijuana. Depending on the specifics this move could help bring relief to thousands of people who are needlessly suffering.

This surprise change of heart also demonstrates just how dramatically the politics of marijuana reform have shifted in the last few years. Cuomo has previously been very skeptical of medical marijuana but is now unilaterally bringing it to his state.

Marijuana reform is no longer something top politicians are afraid to embrace. Instead it is seen as a way to score points with voters in an election year.