I can’t say that I am all the way happy with this bill, but it is the first step in the right direction. As an advocate of medical marijuana, I feel that New York City should have passed the bill a long, long time ago. For years, the Senate has been debating whether to let the Liberty State go green.

Late last night, the Senate voted 49-10 to approve the medical marijuana bill for therapeutic purposes for patients with serious diseases or conditions like cancer, AIDS and epilepsy. The key person on the case, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has finally pledged his support. But the real issue I have is that smokable marijuana is not included in the bill and the restrictions on legal pot are very, very extreme here.

However, we want to know what you guys think about the subject, so please weigh-in in the comments section.

“There are certainly significant medical benefits that can be garnered; at the same time, it’s a difficult issue because there are also risks that have to be averted,” Mr. Cuomo said, mentioning safety and law enforcement concerns. “We believe this bill strikes the right balance.”

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The State Health Department would oversee the program, which would contain a provision to “pull the plug” on it at any time, Mr. Cuomo said. He called that necessary to protect public health and public safety, adding that it “increases my comfort level a great deal.”

A small number of diseases would qualify patients for medical marijuana use, including AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and several serious degenerative conditions.

The department would have up to 18 months to establish regulations governing medical marijuana, such as identifying the entities permitted to dispense it, though it is possible that doctors may be trained and allowed to recommend the drug before then. Initially, five organizations — both businesses and nonprofits — would be allowed to dispense marijuana, each at up to four locations around the state. The drug would be grown in New York and sales of it would be taxed at 7 percent.

More than 20 states now allow patients access to marijuana as a palliative to counter the effects of treatment like chemotherapy, or to alleviate symptoms like seizures. Most allow smoking, but Mr. Cuomo had made it clear that would not be permitted.


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