New York State lawmakers today voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, but patients won't be able to smoke the drug. Instead, the Compassionate Care Act allows for marijuana to be consumed via edibles, tinctures, pills, or inhaled through the use of vaporizers. The "no smoking" restriction was a key demand of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will soon sign off on the legislation. Early this year, Cuomo set out to loosen the state's pot laws, but marijuana advocates voiced disappointment with those early attempts and criticized them as being overly strict.

To assuage his concerns, the Compassionate Care Act contains a clause that allows the New York State Health Department to pull the plug on medical marijuana at any time. "I believe this bill is the right balance, and I commend the members of the Legislature who worked so hard on this measure," Cuomo said in a statement. The list of conditions that its been approved to treat is also fairly short. Patients with the following diseases and ailments can turn to the drug for relief:

  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Neuropathies
  • Huntington’s Disease.

The New York Times reports that the legislation will take effect immediately once Cuomo signs it into law, but its actual implementation could be delayed for up 18 months, depending on how long it takes the department to make key decisions (e.g., where patients will be able to obtain it). Marijuana will be grown within state borders, with all sales taxed at 7 percent, the Times says. New York is the 23rd state in the United States to legalize medical marijuana. Other states have proven even more progressive; recreational use is allowed in Washington and Colorado.