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New York governor announces plan for medical marijuana at hospitals

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CuomoNew York State is poised to allow 20 hospitals to distribute medical marijuana, Gov. Andrew Cuomo formally announced Wednesday.

"Research suggests that medical marijuana can help manage pain and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses," Cuomo said in the annual State of State speech in Albany.

"We will establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana, and we will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and the feasibility of a medical marijuana system," Cuomo added, without elaborating.

Medical marijuana advocates briefed on Cuomo's plan earlier this week said an executive action would allow certain hospitals to dispense the drug to certain patients. The governor's office did not return calls seeking comment.

State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Democrat from Manhattan and a leading proponent of comprehensive legislation for medical marijuana, said he learned about the executive action in a conversation Saturday with members of the governor's staff. He said the move paved the way for a "limited and cumbersome program" but called it a step forward.

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