New York State lawmakers have agreed on a bill to make medical marijuana legal, with some restrictions.
The announcement of a "tentative agreement" on a bill that would instate a "pilot program" came after days of negotiation between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature, according to the New York Times.
"You’re dealing with children with epilepsy, babies, so there are certainly significant medical benefits that can be garnered," Cuomo said Thursday. "At the same time, there are also risks that have to be averted, public health risks, public safety risks and we believe this bill strikes the right balance. It’s taken a lot of time, it’s taken a lot of work, it’s taken a lot of compromise, but we believe it strikes the right balance."
The bill will "permit only doctors to prescribe marijuana in forms including oil-based and vapor to individuals with conditions including, cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis," The Wall Street Journal reported.
All diseases covered "are appropriate, but not overly-expansive," Cuomo said.
The bill does not allow for smokeable marijuana, "which is important," according to Cuomo. Sponsors of the bill favored smokeable varieties but Cuomo thought it would contribute to development of a gateway drug, according to the Wall Street Journal report.
In working with doctors who are of a "highly educated, highly regulated profession," the Department of Health will have the proper authority over the program, Cuomo said.
“The positive medical benefits from marijuana will no longer be ignored in the State of New York," State Sen. David Carlucci, D-Rockland/Westchester, said in a statement. "I am proud to have worked together with my colleagues in Albany to make sure we legalize medical marijuana while providing strict State oversight. Thousands of patients throughout New York who are suffering from a variety of diseases will finally see a huge improvement in their quality of life.”
New York would be the biggest state yet to legalize use of the drug as a medication. Minnesota and Maryland were the latest states to legalize it, according to ProCon.org.
The State Health Department will oversee the seven-year program and will have 18 months to establish regulations and find distribution bodies, the Times reported.