New York, NY, United States (4E) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill making New York the 23rd state to legalize use of marijuana for selected medical purposes.
Cuomo signed the bill on Saturday and held a ceremonial signing on Monday afternoon at the New York Academy of Medicine in Manhattan. The law takes effect in the next 18 months after the state’s Health Department finalize the guidelines for the regulation.
Under the bill, marijuana can only be used to treat 10 serious illnesses and conditions. These include cancer, HIV and AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, epilepsy, some spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis.
Only doctors trained and certified by the state would be allowed to prescribe the drug while patients have to register with the state before using it. Prescription to ineligible patients will subject doctors to a felony charge.
Patients cannot smoke the drug. Marijuana can be used in vaporized or oil extract forms.
The law also allows only five companies to produce marijuana in the state and each can have a maximum of four dispensaries to sell the drug.
The state Senate voted 49-10 to pass the bill legalizing medical marijuana and the Assembly approved it later on June 20.
Other states where medical marijuana use is legal are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.