Sixteen other states around the country have legalized medical marijuana, including New Jersey, which made the practice legal last year. Polls have shown that a majority of New Yorkers would approve of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, but Cuomo said Monday the issue should be reevaluated after more research has been conducted.
"I understand the benefits. But there are also risks, and I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point," he told reporters in Utica, N.Y., where he delivered a speech promoting the state's newly adopted budget on Monday.
Cuomo said there would not be ample time to debate any new bill on the subject before the legislative session ends in June.
Diane Savino, a state senator representing Staten Island and Brooklyn, co-sponsored a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in New York. It has yet to be taken up by the Legislature, and Savino told the Daily News she agreed it was "wildly optimistic" to believe the bill would make any progress this year.
"It would take at least a year to get the bill right and lay the groundwork within the Legislature," she said.
Savino started pushing for medical marijuana legalization last year. In a letter to Cuomo requesting his support, she cited medical studies showing how marijuana can alleviate pain and other symptoms of chronic diseases.
"As someone who has lost both parents to cancer, I know firsthand what it is like to see a loved one in pain and not be able to do anything about it," Savino wrote.
"I urge you to lend your support and your leadership to this legislation, and give doctors one more tool to manage pain and alleviate suffering for thousands of New Yorkers."