Advocates of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes will likely have to wait at least another year to get their cause heard at the state Capitol, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday.
"I understand the benefits, or potential benefits, but I also understand the risks," Cuomo told reporters in Utica.
The governor said the issue is complicated and needs the proper amount of time for study. That isn't possible, he suggested, before lawmakers end their 2012 session in June.
"I don't believe there's going to be time this legislative session to look at that issue," he said.
Assembly Democrats, in particular, for years have pushed to legalize the sale of marijuana for certain kinds of medical purposes, including pain management for some terminal and non-terminal illnesses. What has never been worked out, though, is how the drug could be distributed, who would regulate the sales and precisely who could legally buy the drug.
Advocates have maintained marijuana is a cheaper, and sometimes more effective, pain reliever for certain kinds of chronic pain or for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
But with Republicans seeking to maintain control of the State Senate -- while not further alienating conservative voters after last year's approval of a gay marriage law -- the effort was considered to be an uphill climb, at best, in the current session.
Cuomo on Monday officially made the chances all but zero this year.
"I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point," he said, adding that the state still has a "terrible" problem with drug abuse.