Thanks to the Compassionate Care Act that went into effect on July 5, New York has just joined the list of states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana.
Gov. Cuomo officially signed the bill into law over the Fourth of July weekend, making New York the 23rd state in the country that will provide cannabis to qualified patients. The state has only approved use for 10 conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and certain spinal cord injuries. The health commissioner may also add additional ailments to the approved list of conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, muscular dystrophy and rheumatoid arthritis.
Under this limited medical marijuana bill, patients will not be able to smoke marijuana or consume it in public places although they will have access to edibles, vaporized cannabis, tinctures and oils.
“This legislation strikes the right balance,” said Governor Cuomo via release. “Medical marijuana has the capacity to do a lot of good for a lot of people who are in pain and suffering and are in desperate need of a treatment that will provide some relief… I believe this bill is the right balance.”
Many advocates for cannabis legalization, including the Marijuana Policy Project, find that the bill has many shortcomings because it “leaves out several serious conditions, will not allow patients to smoke cannabis and allows very few producers and dispensaries.”
The new law will allow no more than five manufacturers to operate up to four dispensaries, meaning there will only be up to 20 dispensaries available to patients.
Much like New York, Minnesota patients will not be allowed to smoke cannabis or have access to it in leaf form and only eight dispensaries and two manufacturing facilities will be open throughout the entire state making it difficult for patients to have access to their medicine.
Although these are notable baby steps in the direction of overall legalization of medical and even recreational marijuana, preventing patients from smoking cannabis excludes them from the most effective way to consume pot.
What do you think? Should medical marijuana patients be allowed to smoke cannabis? Tell us in the comments below.