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Cuomo oks medicinal marijuana in New York State

Only marijuana cultivated and dispensed within the state would be permitted.
Only marijuana cultivated and dispensed within the state would be permitted.
Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Legislators in New York State have finally come to an agreement with Governor Andrew Cuomo over the legalization of medicinal marijuana in the state. The program would ban smoking of pot, but would allow use for the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s Disease, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuropathies, Huntington’s Disease, Damage to nerve tissue in the spinal column with “objective neurological indication on tractable spasticity; and inflammatory bowel disease. The drug would be available to patients only through edible forms, oils and vaporizors. Anyone caught violating these restrictions would be liable for criminal prosecution. However, it was hinted that smoking marijuana may eventually be permitted in the future depending on how well the program proceeds.

“Medicinal marijuana has the possibility to do a lot of good for a lot of people who are in pain and who are suffering and in desperate need of treatment that can provide relief. At the same time it is a difficult issue because there are also risks to public health and public safety that must be averted. We believe this bill strikes the right balance,” stated Cuomo, who had formerly been opposed to medicinal pot.

Passage of the bill would make New York the 23rd state to legalize the drug for medical purposes. However, it should be noted that the program would not start for at least another year and a half as the state works to select 5 (regulated) manufacturers who would grow and distribute the drug (via 4 dispensories each) only within New York borders. In addition, the new law would only authorize the use of medical marijuana for 7 years, after which the program would be re-evaluated. Cuomo will also retain the right to cancel the program immediately if he finds there is a lot of abuse or other problems reported by New York’s Department of Health.