Skip to main content

New York legalizes medical marijuana

By Lorenzo Ferrigno and Haimy Assefa, CNN
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs a bill that allows medical marijuana use in nonsmokable form
  • The state legislature passed the bill in June
  • Under the bill, a doctor can prescribe marijuana to patients with serious conditions

(CNN) -- New York became the latest state to permit the use of medical marijuana on Monday.

At a news conference in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act, which allows doctors to prescribe marijuana in a nonsmokable form to patients with serious ailments that are recognized by the state on a predefined but flexible list of conditions.

Dr. Gupta: I agree with Clinton on pot
'Doubling down' on medical marijuana

The bill was passed by the State Assembly and Senate in June, said Jason Elan, a spokesman for Sen. Diane Savino, a sponsor of the bill.

Cuomo said Monday that it was difficult to develop and pass the bill because it needed to embrace increased medical acceptance of marijuana while rejecting situations and conditions that state legislators said could have "good intent and bad results."

"There is no doubt that medical marijuana can help people," Cuomo said Monday. "We are here to help people. And if there is a medical advancement, then we want to make sure that we're bringing it to New Yorkers."

Senate Co-Leader Jeffrey D. Klein said the "patient-centric program" will provide relief to thousands of people and will be "one of the safest, most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs in the country."

Could legalizing marijuana become 'tragedy'?
Pot farmers aiding California's drought

The legalization of medical marijuana has had "overwhelming support" in state polls, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has said in a statement.

'I like weed and I'm a good person': Pot smokers fight stereotypes

Cuomo has said the act included criminal penalties in case a person tries to defraud the system, as well as a "fail safe" mechanism allowing the governor to "suspend the program at any time on recommendation of either the State Police Superintendent or the Commissioner of Health if there is a risk to the public health or public safety."

New York will be the 23rd state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow medical marijuana in some form, according to information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Among the states that allow medical marijuana are Connecticut, Vermont and New Jersey, each of which borders New York.

The momentum has picked up recently, with most of these efforts taking effect over the past decade.

A proponent of the measure, Missy Miller of Long Island, said she considered moving to California to gain access to a special strain of marijuana called Charlotte's Web oil, a derivative that may help cease her son Oliver's seizures.

Oliver, 14, suffered a stroke in utero that resulted in a brain stem injury. Among several other life-threatening consequences are seizures, sometimes more than a dozen a day.

"I am extremely relieved and proud to have been a part of helping bring necessary change that so many of us need," Miller said.

But "I am quite concerned about the 18-month implementation, though, because Oliver does not have that time to wait. I am hopeful that some kind of expedited access plan can be worked out to help those with urgent need like Oliver."

Opponents of the measure have said it was driven by politics.

"I think serious questions can be raised about using a political vehicle to achieve the use of a prescribable medication in America," William Foster, president of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, told CNN when the plan was unveiled in January.

Pope Francis says he opposes making recreational drugs legal

Gupta: 'I am doubling down' on medical marijuana

Could pot push voters to the polls this fall?

Part of complete coverage on
The Marijuana Debate
A look at marijuana laws in the U.S. by state.
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Lighting up a freshly packed pipe is just the kind of afternoon delight iReporter robcat20 likes after dealing with a stressful day at work as an insurance agent.
updated 8:40 AM EST, Thu March 6, 2014
I feel very badly that people have suffered for too long, unable to obtain the legitimate medicine that may have helped them, Sanjay Gupta writes.
updated 3:24 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
States that have legalized marijuana for managing chronic pain have significantly fewer deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses each year, according to a new study.
updated 7:33 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
How have we come to the brink of ending the prohibition against a drug that has been condemned for years as a grave danger to health?
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Research says that 1 in 6 teens who start using marijuana will become addicted.
updated 7:13 AM EST, Fri March 7, 2014
Aimee Curry recalls sitting on her couch one day, her back contorted, as spasms -- remnants of a car accident that almost killed her in 1992 -- rippled up and down her back.
updated 7:19 AM EST, Fri January 31, 2014
President Barack Obama talks to CNN's Jake Tapper about marijuana legalization in an exclusive interview.
updated 8:06 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
Is something broken when a Missouri man can be sentenced to die in prison for purchasing seven pounds of marijuana?
updated 11:19 AM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
Looks like the ongoing debate about marijuana legalization in the United States has reached a new high: President Barack Obama's White House.
updated 8:44 PM EDT, Thu August 8, 2013
Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called "Weed." The title may sound cavalier, but the content is not.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT