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New York to Become 23rd State to Allow Marijuana for Medical Purposes

First Posted: Jun 20, 2014 01:40 PM EDT

New York legislators have arrived at a compromise to allow limited access to medical marijuana. The vote for final approval was scheduled for Thursday, but will now take place on Friday so the bill can be further reviewed.

A total of 21 states in the continental United States will allow medical marijuana use once New York officially votes on the legislation, along with Washington, D.C., Hawaii, and Alaska. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has supported such legislation for years, but the state provides a tough crowd when dealing with such controversial issues. Now that legislators were able to compromise and see how such marijuana laws played out in other states, they feel it's now appropriate to move on with their own.

The bill has a few known provisions, such as who will be able to receive medical marijuana and under what conditions. Patients aged 21 and older can receive medicinal marijuana if they suffer from epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, neuropathies, spinal cord injuries, cancer, and HIV/AIDs. The law also allows the New York Health Department to approve other serious medical conditions for use of marijuana as treatment.

''Medical marijuana has the capacity to do a lot of good for a lot of people who are in pain, who are suffering and are in desperate need of a treatment that can provide relief," said Governor Cuomo in this Boston.com article.

"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,'" he added in this Reuters news article.

Once approved, the bill will take 18 months to go into effect as the state develops a marijuana program, for which five registered growing companies will be allowed up to four dispensaries each throughout the state. The governor will also have the option of terminating the law during that 18-month period and there will be a seven-year sunset period to evaluate the medical marijuana program once it becomes active.

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