After much hemming and hawing, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in the state of New York. Oh happy day (for people who really need it to help with their ailments)! New York is now the 23rd state in our union to allow the use of medical marijuana.
But before you start shooting fireworks off your rooftop, it should be noted that this is one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws currently in effect. You shouldn’t count on getting a medical marijuana card in the next few months.
First, the law has a “fail safe” provision that allows the State to immediately suspend the program if either the State Police Superintendent or the Commissioner of Health declare it a risk to public health and safety.
Second, those who join the program for recreation rather than treatment (qualified ailments are limited to a “predefined but flexible list of conditions”) could face criminal charges if caught abusing the system. And finally, all medical marijuana in New York will only be available in non-smokable forms. So look out for a sudden proliferation of weed bakeries in the near future.
The new program will take roughly 18 months to go into full effect. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn D.A. and the NYPD seem to have reached a compromise on the promised decriminalization of good ol’ smokable weed in Brooklyn, though NYC still has a disproportionately high number of low level marijuana arrests for a city of its size.
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