New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed on a pilot program to provide access to marijuana to sick New Yorkers, making the state one of the largest to embrace the drug's use as medicine, the New York Times reports. The announcement came after days of intense negotiations between the legislature and Cuomo, who had proposed a more restrictive system earlier this year that was roundly criticized as unworkable for thousands of potential patients.
The agreement included a major Cuomo demand that no smoking of the drug would be permitted, though a variety of other options — including edibles and tinctures — would be. Patients would also be allowed to inhale if the drug was vaporized, similar to e-cigarettes. “There are certainly significant medical benefits that can be garnered; at the same time, it's a difficult issue because there are also risks that have to be averted,” Cuomo said, mentioning safety and law enforcement concerns. “We believe this bill strikes the right balance.” The State Health Department would oversee the program, which would contain a provision to “pull the plug” on it at any time, Cuomo said. A small number of diseases would qualify patients for medical use, including AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and several serious degenerative conditions.