Legal Medical Marijuana Is Coming To New York

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New York is set to become the 23rd state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators made the historic announcement Thursday, saying that the new deal will allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with illnesses like cancer, AIDS and epilepsy — but they won’t be able to smoke. Instead, marijuana will have to be ingested with food in oil and or vapor form, a compromise that Cuomo said had to be made before he signed off.

“There are certainly significant medical benefits that can be garnered,” Cuomo said at a news conference Thursday.

At the same time, it’s a difficult issue because there are also risks that have to be averted — public-health risks, public-safety risks — and we believe this bill strikes the right balance.”

The long-awaited bill has a few more strict guidelines before patients can get their hands on some medical weed, according to the Wall Street Journal Online: Physicians must go through an 18-month training before they can prescribe marijuana to their patients; additionally, patients must get certified by licensed practitioners and get an official ID card to have the medical marijuana from the Department of Health. The bill also includes a clause that says the governor can suspend the program on the advice of his health or police commissioner.

After the registrations are complete, it will be about 18 months before the program is up and running.

Needless to say, there have been those who express their disappointment in the new, strict program saying it violates the personal relationship between patient and medical provider.

“The method [of intake] should be decided between a patient and a doctor, what method is correct for a patient,” Keith Seymour, a member of advocacy organization Compassionate Care NY, told the Wall Street Journal.

But others are happy just to have a compromise — even if it does fall short of their expectations.

“New York has finally done something significant for thousands of patients who are suffering and need relief now. They will benefit from this compromise,” said Gabriel Sayegh, director of medical advocacy group Compassionate Care NY.

That said, this is not the bill we wanted.”