[JURIST] New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] on Monday signed [press release] the Compassionate Care Act [text] into law, making New York the twenty-third state to legalize medical marijuana. The bill legalizes the possession, manufacture, use, delivery, transport or administration of medical marijuana by a designated caregiver for a certified medical use. It allows medical professionals to prescribe marijuana to patients with debilitating or life-threatening conditions such as terminal illness, severe chronic pain, nausea and other illnesses or as the commissioner deems appropriate. The legislation also requires patients to obtain a registry identification card, valid for a year, unless the patient is terminally ill, in which case the registration remains in effect until death. The bill also imposes an excise tax on the marijuana, which is only to be administered in ingestible or sublingual (dissolvable) form.
The use of marijuana for medical purposes and the legalization of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for recreational use has garnered more legal support [Marijuana Policy Project website] in the US in recent months. Last month Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] signed [JURIST report] a bill allowing a non-euphoric strain of marijuana to be used for the treatment of epilepsy, cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Minnesota lawmakers in May approved a bill [JURIST report] legalizing medical marijuana in pill or liquid form for a limited number of patients who suffer from severe or fatal illnesses. In April the Maryland House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Earlier in April Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill [JURIST report] that would decriminalize marijuana possession in the District of Columbia for up to an ounce. In March the Colorado Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that lawyers can advise marijuana businesses in the state without fear of violating state attorney ethics laws. Also in March the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona [official website] succeeded [JURIST report] in a lawsuit to defend the rights of Arizonans to use marijuana extracts for medical conditions. In the same month the state senate in Georgia unanimously approved a house version of a groundbreaking medical marijuana bill for the state [JURIST reports].