ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Legislature voted overwhelmingly Friday to legalize marijuana to alleviate pain and other symptoms for some severely ill patients, approving a compromise reached among legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The 49-10 approval by the Senate followed the 117-13 vote earlier Friday by the Assembly. Cuomo was expected to sign it shortly.
It will make New York the 23rd state to legalize marijuana for medical uses, but the drug won't be available in the state for at least 18 months while regulations are written and five producers and distributors are state-approved and licensed. The Health Department will establish appropriate doses, with prescriptions limited to 30 days and short extensions. Insurers won't pay for it, making it essentially a cash business.
"If it were up to me, we would start tomorrow," said Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat and chief Senate sponsor. "But we have to work within the regulations that exist."
Many senators said it will help alleviate suffering of children with seizure disorders, as well as others, while restrictions pushed by Cuomo and Senate Republicans removed some concerns it will fuel further drug addictions and expand the black market.
The bill doesn't allow the drug to be sold in plant form or smoked. It could be administered through a vaporizer or in an oil base. Marijuana could be prescribed for 10 diseases, including cancer, epilepsy, AIDS and neuropathy.
Continue reading this story on the...