A bud tender at a medical marijuana dispensary displays marijuana to patients in Los Angeles, Calif. New York will reportedly join California and 19 other states in allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.David McNew/Getty Images
New York will soon allow the limited use of medical marijuana for seriously ill patients under a plan the state's governor will announce in the next few days, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has steadily resisted pressure to legalize marijuana, was expected to announce the plan at Wednesday's State of the State address, according to the newspaper's website.
A spokesman for Cuomo's office declined to comment on the report.
The newspaper said the policy will be far more restrictive than the laws in Colorado or California, where medical marijuana is available to people with conditions such as backaches.
The move comes amid sharply shifting attitudes in the United States toward marijuana use.
Earlier this week, Colorado became the first state to regulate and sell marijuana for recreational use.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws in recent years allowing for various uses of medical marijuana — though only Colorado and Washington have decriminalized its recreational use.
Washington is not slated to open its first retail establishments until later in 2014. Under Cuomo's plan, 20 hospitals across New York will be allowed to prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other serious diseases that meet standards to be set by the state Department of Health, the newspaper said.
Cuomo's executive action does not require legislative approval, but instead relies on a provision in a state public health law that allows for the use of controlled substances for patients with cancer and other serious illnesses, it said.