New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that legalizes medical marijuana in the state, according to USA Today. New York became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana for injured or seriously injured patients.
The ceremony for the signing of the bill was held on Monday at the New York Academy of Medicine.
With the governor’s signature, the Department of Health now haves 18 months to get the program operating. The program will permit state-certified doctors to prescribe the drug to patients who have cancer, epilepsy and other diseases or conditions.
Private marijuana growers will be awarded contracts by the state, only five of them, and they will be allowed to open just four dispensaries each. Cuomo said it will take some nine months to grow the marijuana.
The law will permit only non-smokeable forms of the drug, including vapors, oils and pills.
“There is no doubt that medical marijuana can help people,” Cuomo said Monday. “It’s been proven in other states. There’s a whole history of information and data and research just on that topic, and we are there to help people.”
The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 49-10. Many members of the Senate were concerned about the state being able to get a program up-and-running. They wondered if the state should wait for the Food and Drug Administration to take matters into its hands, but the Senate ultimately passed the bill.