The governor also announced that New York will follow in the footsteps of 20 other states when it comes to legalizing medical marijuana. Our Sarah Blazonis tells us why some say they're concerned about what this could mean for Glaucoma patients.
STATEWIDE -- It's news that wasn't unexpected.
"We have to make New York healthier. Research suggests that medical marijuana can help manage the pain and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses," Governor Andrew Cuomo said during Wednesday's State of the State address.
That's why Governor Cuomo says plans are in the works to allow up to 20 hospitals to prescribe marijuana.
The drug is one of the commonly discussed methods to treat Glaucoma symptoms according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
It's an option some say isn't ideal.
"The thought of, 'Should you be smoking marijuana,' well, it's a nice thought, but truly, it's ludicrous," said Mark Lesselroth, a Glaucoma Patient and President of the Glaucoma Foundation's CNY Chapter.
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve and can lead to blindness. This is partly caused by pressure on the nerve, which marijuana can help relieve, but effects are temporary.
"Someone would have to smoke marijuana six to eight times a day, and even then, it usually only lasts a couple of hours," said Lesselroth.
"There are no studies that have shown that it's any better than the regular prescription eye drops or pills that we prescribe to treat Glaucoma," said Glaucoma Specialist Charles Teitelbaum.
Then there are concerns about health complications smoking the drug could cause down the road.
"There's the smoking risk itself, the risk of lung cancer. There certainly would be risks with somebody driving or operating dangerous machinery while smoking pot," said Teitelbaum.
Cuomo says the program will be monitored to determine how effective and feasible it is, but aside from cancer, it's unclear what serious illnesses could be eligible or if glaucoma will be one of them.