Albany (photo: wallyg/flickr)

Yesterday the New York State Assembly approved AB 7347, a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state for certified patients with serious illnesses. The bill passed the chamber by a vote of 90-50 and it will now head to the Senate.

According to the office of the Speaker of the Assembly the law would:

  • allow a licensed practitioner to certify that a patient has a serious condition (under statutory criteria) for which they are likely to receive palliative or therapeutic benefit from treatment with the medical use of marijuana;
  • allow a certified patient or designated caregiver who is registered with the state Department of Health to possess up to two and one half ounces of marijuana;
  • authorize the state Department of Health to license and regulate “registered organizations and producers” to dispense medical marijuana for certified patients; and
  • authorize the state Department of Health to issue registry identification cards to certified patients and designated caregivers.

Medical marijuana is expected to have a tougher time getting approval in the more conservative New York State Senate which is currently controlled by Republicans. While Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo has so far neither endorsed nor promised to veto the bill, his recent public statements about medical marijuana have been lukewarm at best.

Recent polling does show that the voters of New York overwhelmingly want the Senate to follow the Assembly’s lead on this issue, they want Cuomo to sign a medical marijuana bill if it gets to his desk. 61 percent of New York Voters support legalizing marijuana for medical use, just 33 percent oppose the reform.