New York will likely become the next state to allow medicinal marijuana, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached a deal with pro-marijuana legislators on Thursday.
According to The New York Times, the deal produced a bill that allows patients with certain severe chronic illnesses to be prescribed the drug from certified doctors. (Some diseases like diabetes, lupus, and post-concussion syndrome won't count.) The bill doesn't allow patients to smoke marijuana, despite protests from advocates and supporters in the legislature. Only vaporized pot, edibles, and pills are legal. It also limited the number of manufacturers to five in the whole state, and mandates that the program be re-evaluated in seven years.
Thursday is the last day the legislature is meeting, and supporters of the law were upset that Cuomo waited until this week to bring up specific concerns. As we noted Wednesday, lawmakers presented a revised version of the bill on Monday that restricted smoking to people 21 and over, limited which diseases qualify, and applied other changes. Cuomo rejected that version on Tuesday, and has been meeting with leaders ever since, trying to strike a balance between a bill that's compassionate and a bill that doesn't "wreak havoc" on the state.
"Medical marijuana has the capacity to do a lot of good for a lot of people who are suffering. At the same time, it's a difficult issue because there are risks that need to be averted," Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany Thursday, according to Crain's New York Business. "We believe this bill strikes the right balance."