New York Legalizes Medical Marijuana
July 8th, 2014
Policy, Top News
New York became the 23rd U.S. state, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize medical marijuana in some form this week. At a news conference in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo singed the Compassionate Care Act that enables doctors to prescribe nonsmokable marijuana to patients with serious medical conditions that are recognized by the state as qualifying ailments.
“There is no doubt that medical marijuana can help people,” said Cuomo. “We are here to help people. And if there is a medical advancement, then we want to make sure that we’re bringing it to New Yorkers.”
The state’s medical marijuana program will be one of the most tightly regulated ones in the country. With a “fail-safe” mechanism permitting the governor to suspend the program at any time, the act includes strict criminal penalties in cases where potential patients try to defraud the system. Smokable forms of marijuana are also still banned in the state with only edibles, pills, and oils accepted.
The bill passed the senate 49 to 10 after state leaders announced a legislative compromise aimed at broadening its support, while a 7-cent tax will be levied on the drug in order to raise state revenue. The state Department of Health will be the organization responsible for the regulation and licensing of medical marijuana manufacturers and distributors within the state as well.
In 2012, New York had a population of roughly 20 million citizens, making it the third largest U.S. state in terms of population. Medical marijuana advocates have been fighting hard in the battleground state, which has historically cracked down harshly on drug-related crimes. Possession of any marijuana in public view is punishable by 90 days in jail and a $250 fine.
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