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New York to become 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana

Spencer Platt / Getty Images News

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators announced Thursday that they have agreed on a path forward to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The legislation will make New York the second largest state, after California, to allow the drug for medical purposes.

"Medical marijuana has the potential to do a lot of good for a lot of people," Cuomo said at a press conference. "Some of these cases are some of the most heart-wrenching you've ever heard, dealing with children."

The legislation will allow doctors to certify patients for medical marijuana to treat epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and several other conditions. As the science develops, New York health officials will be able to add more conditions to the list.

Patients will not be able to smoke marijuana under the proposal. They will instead need to vaporize, eat, or otherwise ingest the drug.

The legislation will also include a fail-safe that would allow the governor and his administration to terminate the medical marijuana program should it produce public safety and other health issues.

If the experience of states like Colorado is anything to go by, however, public safety and health issues shouldn't become a major problem.

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