The Empire State took an important step towards becoming the 23rd state to adopt medical marijuana. On Tuesday the Senate voted 9-8 in favor of the S. 4406B, the Compassionate Care Act. This now sends the bill to the Senate Finance Committee.

This vote is important because the state senate has been the main obstacle preventing New York from adopting medical marijuana. Last year the New York Assembly approved a medical marijuana bill.

If the bill reaches the floor, State Sen. Diane Savino, one of its cosponsors, expects it will pass. She claims to have 39 yes votes for the bill already, which is more than the 32 votes needed for a majority.

If approved, the bill would create a tightly regulated medical marijuana system. Patients with certain severe debilitating or life-threatening medical conditions would be able to access medical marijuana if they have a recommendation from their health care provider and register with the Department of Health. The marijuana would be provided by regulated “registered organizations.” These organizations would need to implement a seed-to-sale tracking system.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

Photo by Chuck Coker, used under Creative Commons license