ALBANY, N.Y. -- New Yorkers with cancer, AIDS, Parkinson's disease or other qualifying conditions will soon be able to obtain medical marijuana.
The state's medical marijuana program is scheduled to begin Thursday, 18 months after lawmakers passed the law.
Twenty-three states now have medical marijuana programs. New York's is considered one of the strictest, as only non-smokable forms of the drug will be allowed.
The state picked five companies to produce the medication. They will operate 20 dispensaries throughout the state.
To receive medical cannabis an individual must have one of several qualifying conditions, and a certification from a physician who is registered with the program.
Columbia Care NY plans to open its first dispensary, near Manhattan's Union Square, this week, with locations in Suffolk, Monroe and Clinton counties opening later this month.