Image of legal medical marijuana in New York
 ~ Politics on the Hudson ~
Medical-marijuana advocates are less than pleased.
As most eyes were on the state Legislature’s race to finish a $142 billion state budget Tuesday, the Department of Health moved to finalize a set of regulations for New York’s medical marijuana program.
The rules, a draft of which was first proposed in December, will guide the state’s program for making the drug available to patients with serious illnesses. After they’re published in the April 15 state register, they’ll take effect 10 days later.
Medical-marijuana advocates are less than pleased. They had been critical of the regulations when they were first proposed in December, calling them overly restrictive. And there was little changed from the draft rules to the final ones.
“Substantive concerns were provided by hundreds of people who are in need of accessing medical marijuana,” said Janet Weinberg, a leader with Compassionate Care NY, a coalition of groups supportive of medical marijuana. “They expressed that need, and the (Cuomo) Administration did not make any changes. The regulations do not provide consistency in utilizing a medical model.”
A state law passed last year requires the program to be up and running by January.
Under the law, the state will be able to award five licenses to marijuana growers, and each license holder will be able to open up five dispensaries. The proposed regulations lay out a detailed process for applying for the licenses, which are required to be distributed in different areas of the state. Each grower would then be required to take a state training course, as would doctors and pharmacists dealing with the drug.
Here’s a summary of the regulations, via the Department of Health:

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