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Today marks the first day of legal medical marijuana sales in New York, as the first medical marijuana dispensaries are open for business. New York’s medical marijuana program is among one of the strictest programs in the United States.

Joining 22 other states and Washington, D.C., New York is launching extensive programs that will grant certified patients with very serious and terminal illnesses (cancer, HIV and AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy) to use marijuana.

For the New York medical marijuana program, five organizations have been state licensed to manufacture and sell medical marijuana. Each organization is permitted to run and operate four dispensaries. Only 8 out of 20 are due to open their door today All of them are expected to be up and running by the end of the month.

“Our program ensures the availability of pharmaceutical-grade medical marijuana products for certified patients and establishes strict regulatory controls to protect public health and safety,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement.

Eight dispensaries across New York state are expected to open on today. These locations include New York City and Albany, health officials said.

While all other states that allow medical marijuana, except Minnesota, the New York medical marijuana program will not allow marijuana for smoking. It only allows the drug to be sold and consumed in liquid or oil form for vaporizers or capsules that can be taken orally. The cultivation of marijuana by patients is also prohibited.

Furthermore, New York is requiring physicians to participate in  a four-hour mandatory training course before they can certify patients. This requirement is not imposed by other state programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many medical researchers have given positive recognition to New York’s more conservative approach. They say the state’s affable controls regarding prescribing, dosing and other conditions of the program will allow for more dependable study of the effectiveness of medical marijuana.

Nevertheless, critics are saying that New York has gone a bit too far in trying to limit the types of patients allowed in the program and how those who qualify can use the drug.

http://www.lockportjournal.com/news/new-york-medical-marijuana-program-begins-today/article_92f24800-1e80-512d-aaa6-5d177c124cc2.html

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