New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently surprised many with his January 8 announcement that New York would allow medical marijuana use at twenty select hospitals based on state Health Department regulations in lieu of legislation.  

However, many state lawmakers and cannabis activists have actually challenged and criticized the governor for potentially circumventing the eventual establishment of a much more comprehensive medical pot program.  

Cuomo is opposed to the Compassionate Care Act, which was passed in 2013 by the State Assembly and is reportedly supported by 40 of the 63 state senators. Unfortunately the measure did not receive a Senate vote last year.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), expressed concern that Cuomo’s actions could neutralize the momentum in the state legislature. She told Newsday: “I want to make sure my original supporters are still there. I don’t want supporters saying, ‘Well, the governor did this, so we don’t have to 9support legal medical marijuana] anymore.’”

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) did acknowledge Gov Cuomo’s plan is a “good first step,” but questioned the particulars of the program, such as relying on seized marijuana for the supply, which could be of questionable quality. In other legal medical pot states, professional cultivators produce high-quality cannabis.

Also, Cuomo’s plan would only serve a small percentage of the actual number of patients who could ultimately benefit from medi-weed.

“The governor should be working with us to pass workable legislation,” Gottfried affirmed.

On Monday, the first full day of the 2014 New York State Senate session, a gathering of patients and medical pot activists protested in Albany, demanding the Senate pass the Compassionate Care Act and that Gov Cuomo sign it into law.