New York Governor Signs Historic Medical Marijuana Bill into Law
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a historic medical marijuana bill into law July 5, making his state the 23rd to legalize the substance for seriously ill or injured patients. The drug will be distributed in nonsmokable forms. Cuomo and state lawmakers met at the New York Academy of Medicine on Monday for a ceremony marking the historic event. Now that state’s Department of Health has 18 months to begin a program that will allow medical practitioners to distribute the drug. Medical marijuana can be used by patients suffering from epilepsy, cancer and other conditions to lessen the severity of the disease and side effects. Only five growers will be officially sanctioned by the state to supply the drug, and those growers also will be issued permits to distribute to qualified patients. The state Assembly and Senate passed the bill by a 49-10 vote in June prior to their annual recess, but not before a passionate debate on the drug’s benefits. An escape clause was made part of the bill that will allow the governor’s office to end the program if it is abused. Border states also adopting medical marijuana laws are Connecticut, Vermont and New Jersey, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.