NEW YORK - Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a political splash by introducing a medical marijuana plan in the State of the State speech, but his cautious approach has been met with skepticism from pot advocates who question whether the proposal is mostly for show.
While nearly two dozen states have OK'd marijuana for medical purposes and Colorado and Washington have legalized its use for pleasure, Cuomo is tapping a 1980 state law to allow as many as 20 hospitals to dispense the drug to people with certain severe illnesses as an experimental research project.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that he's actually verbalized the words 'medical marijuana,' but he's just got to go further," said Susan Rusinko, a 52-year-old central New York resident who said a hit of pot is a "wonder drug" that relaxes immobilizing leg spasms from her multiple sclerosis. It's unclear whether she would even qualify for Cuomo's initiative or whether there would be a participating hospital near her.
The governor's office has yet to detail how the program would overcome key hurdles, including the lack of a legal, unadulterated supply of marijuana in the state and a federal law that still makes it illegal for doctors to write a prescription.
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