At precisely 2:51 a.m. on Friday, June 20, the New York State Assembly passed the Compassionate Care Act, which (when the bill passes the senate, as it is widely expected to, when it is taken up around 10 a.m.) will make New York the 23rd state in the union where medical marijuana is legal…as long as you don’t smoke it. Seriously: Patients will need to use a vaporizer, pills or other extraction method. The use of joints, bongs and pipes–anything you light up–is strictly verboten.
Under the new law, physicians will have to go through a certification and registration process before they can prescribe the drug legally. Patients, likewise, will need to be certified by a doctor, and they will have to register with the Department of Health, which will provide an ID card proving one’s certification, but they will be free to carry up to 30 days supply of medical pot.
For now, only patients with serious conditions–cancer, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and spinal cord damage–will be eligible, although more conditions could be added by the health commissioner during the bill’s first 18 months.
The legislation outlines a framework under which growers will also register with the Department of Health. Registration (which would not be available to those companies until 18 months after the bill went into effect) would last for just two years. Under the law, sharing your personal, DOH-certified doobie with anyone else will be a misdemeanor, and it will be a felony for a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana to anyone who the state decides “has no need” for it.
And, of course, now that pot is legal, the state wants its cut: Medical marijuana will be taxed at 7 percent.
New York’s Village Voice has the full story.