New York is to allow limited access to medical marijuana in the state, making it the 23rd US state where cannabis are made available for therapeutic purposes, Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers announced on Thursday.
The proposed medical cannabis program, which assures one of the most restrictive and limited use of the same, will permit the ingredients of marijuana to be inhaled as a vapor or ingested. But, smoking of pot itself is restricted.
The agreement dubbed as 'legalizing medical marijuana' would essentially allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to those with diseases or disorders such as cancer, AIDS and epilepsy.
At a news conference, Cuoma called the agreement, "the best of both worlds." Marijuana would be made available to those patients in need, but there are restrictions in place to ensure that the provision is not abused or taken advantage of, he said.
"There are certainly significant medical benefits that can be garnered," Cuomo told reporters. "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."
Lawmakers were expected to approve the bill by early Friday. The state's new program which would be running within 18 months would also include a clause that allows the governor to suspend the bill if needed, on the advice of his health or police commissioner. The medical drug would be taxed at 7 percent of gross sales, reports suggest.
"I always supported the concept of 'If you can get the medical benefits of medical marijuana to a suffering patient, clearly you would want to do that," Cuomo further said.
"My trepidation has always been the risk. This bill virtually eliminates the risk."
Under the stated plan, the Health Department would license five private companies in the state that would produce and distribute medical marijuana products.
Inorder to use cannabis for treatment there are essentially two conditions: patients must be at least 21 years of age and they must be suffering from any of the specified ailments such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, neuropathies, spinal cord injuries, cancer and AIDS.