Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders struck a last-minute agreement on the bill Thursday, and the state Legislature is expected to pass it before the session wraps up tonight.
The plan is far more narrow that the one advocates had proposed. Aside from the ban on smoking cannabis, the law allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for just a handful of ailments, including AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.
That will limit the patient base, but there will still be plenty of opportunities – particularly in the area of infused products – for entrepreneurs.
Under the measure, the State Health Department will oversee the program, which will run for seven years. Legislators will be given the ability to reauthorize it after that period.
The department will have up to 18 months to establish regulations governing medical marijuana. According to the New York Daily News, the state will license up to five companies to grow and distribute medical cannabis.
The proposal allows the governor to suspend the program at any time upon recommendation by the state police superintendent or the state health commissioner.