ALBANY, N.Y. - Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced an agreement to legalize medical marijuana in New York State.
The bill allows medical marijuana to be administered to patients via vaporization, oils, pills or other ways as research advances.
The bill does not allow the medical marijuana to be smoked, as Gov. Cuomo and the Department of Health cited public health risk commonly associated with smoke.
Doctors will have to take a course before they can prescribe the drug and will have to certify the patient should be considered for the use of medical marijuana. The drug can be considered for patients struggling from a range of issues including cancer, Parkinsons, Epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and many others.
Once the patient is certified, they must apply through the Department of Health for a registration card and the card must be carried at all times.
Dosages are based on doctor recommendations.
The medical marijuana will be grown and sold by five registered organizations that can operate up to four dispensaries. All medical marijuana will be subjected to laboratory testing. If the State determines the dispensaries can not keep up with demand, there is a provision in the bill that allows for expansion.
The bill will include new laws penalizing the misuse of medical marijuana:
If a practitioner certifies a patient is eligible for medical marijuana when he or she knows or should know the patient is not eligible - Class C Felony
If a patient sells/trades/disposes or gives medical marijuana to another or retains and warehouses medical marijuana for others - Misdemeanor
If a patient presents false documents of certification to a practitioner in order to receive medical marijuana - Class E Felony
Medical practitioner could also face professional punishments if caught violating the laws.
Gov. Cuomo says the bill has a built-in “fail safe provision” to shut the program down if it is found to be a public health risk.
Under the provision, the Governor has the option to suspend the program at any time under the recommendations from the State Police Superintendent or Commissioner of Health.