A marijuana starter plant is for sale at a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, in this November 20, 2012 file photo.
REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

New York, North Carolina sign medical marijuana bills


New York has just become the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana in the U.S.–this coming as North Carolina made the move last week to permit the use of marijuana oil to treat epileptic children.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law on Monday, just two weeks after the state legislature passed the bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Under the new law, marijuana would be authorized to treat patients with diseases such as epilepsy, cancer, and AIDS. The drug cannot be smoked, however, but must be administered using a vaporizing or oil-based cannabis extract.

The program is expected to be up and running within 18 months.

“This new law takes an important step toward bringing relief to patients living with extraordinary pain and illness,” Cuomo said in a press release Monday. “The legislation I am signing today strikes the right balance between our desire to give those suffering from serious diseases access to treatment, and our obligation to guard against threats to public health and safety.”

The New York medical marijuana law takes effect immediately and will sunset in seven years.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill on Thursday allowing the use of marijuana oil to treat epileptic patients.  

“For some children, this treatment is the only relief they can get from debilitating seizures,” McCrory said in a statement. “Provisions in this law will lead to clinical research at our universities that could help in the development of new and more widely accessible therapies.”

The measure passed the North Carolina State Senate last month by a unanimous vote and by a 112-1 vote in the State House. Under the law, patients and neurologists would register with the state to possess and administer marijuana, or CBD, oil. Physicians would also be required to participate in a statewide study of the effectiveness of this treatment.

The law goes into effect as soon as the Department of Health and Human Services drafts rules for the pilot study.

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New York, North Carolina sign medical marijuana bills