York governor signs medical marijuana bill into law
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[July 08, 2014]
By TG Branfalt Jr.
ALBANY N.Y. (Reuters) -
Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday he had signed
legislation making New York the 23rd state to allow
medical marijuana, calling his approach, which forbids
smoking of the drug and includes strict limits, the
"smartest" any state had taken so far.
Under the guidelines, access to the drug will be limited to patients
with very serious and terminal illnesses, the drug can only be
administered through vaporizing, oils and edibles, and Cuomo
reserves the right to disband the program at any time.
"This new law takes an important step toward bringing relief to
patients living with extraordinary pain and illness," Cuomo told a
news conference at the New York Academy of Medicine, flanked by
lawmakers and 9-year-old Amanda Houser, who suffers from seizures.
The legislation "gets us the best that medical marijuana has to
offer in the most protected, controlled way possible,Ē the
Democratic governor said. "I really believe that this is the
smartest approach that any state has taken thus far."
Other states have approved far more permissive laws. Washington
state and Colorado decriminalized recreational use of marijuana in
2012. In other states, patients can grow their own pot, obtain it
from a dispensary, or both. Medical marijuana is also legal in the
District of Columbia.
The signing of the New York law came after years of advocacy by
proponents of medical marijuana. While applauding passage of the new
law, advocates said it was not as comprehensive as patients had
hoped and the timeline was too slow.
"Iím heartened that the governor understands the medicinal benefits
of medical cannabis. My son and so many others need this medicine
right away," said Missy Miller, whose son Oliver suffered a brain
stem injury in utero and now as a teenager has hundreds of seizures
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"The eighteen month timeline for implementation suggested in the
bill is simply too long for Oliver," Miller said in a statement
issued by the Drug Policy Alliance.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the state's goal would be
to get the program up and running "swiftly, safely and efficiently."
The assembly has been approving versions of the bills for the better
part of two decades. The current bill passed both houses of the
Legislature on June 20.
The conditions covered include cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinsonís,
multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord injuries, irritable bowel
syndrome, epilepsy, neuropathy and Huntingtonís disease.
(Editing by Edith Honan and Peter Cooney)
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