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The New York State Senate Health Committee has passed a medical marijuana bill as support grows for putting a new law on the books.
The move puts New York a small step closer to joining more than a dozen of other states that already have passed legislation.
According to the Times Union, supporters of the bill hope that New York will become like neighboring New Jersey which became the 14th state to pass legislation to allow the use of medical marijuana.
This is the second year in a row the bill has gotten out of the Health Committee before progress was stalled. In 2007 and 2008, the New York State Assembly passed medical marijuana legislation but the issue has never gotten a Senate floor vote.
The New York State Senate Health Committee passed S. 4041-B. Supporters say it's an important step toward getting chronically ill patients legal access to marijuana.
The Assembly's medical marijuana bill, A. 9016, has already passed the Health Committee and is now sitting in the Assembly Codes Committee.
New York could become the 15th state after New Jersey to legalize medical marijuana.
As previously discussed, New Jersey's new law legalizing medical marijuana to help patients with chronic illnesses also is the strictest medical marijuana law in the nation.
The New Jersey the marijuana bill (S119) is expected to take effect in next few months. The legislation allows for dispensaries to be set up around the state where patients with prescriptions can access the drug.
Other states including California also have legalized medical marijuana. In California doctors have wide latitude to prescribe marijuana for patients, to be distributed through medical marijuana dispensaries, as previously discussed.
As for New York, it remains to be seen whether the medical marijuana bill has teeth to be passed into law.