When California's landmark medical marijuana law - Proposition 215 - was passed in 1996, a state from the northeast had already had a limited medical marijuana law on the books for 16 years. In 1980, the New York state legislature had approved a law that allowed hospitals to utilize marijuana for patients with cancer and glaucoma. Then-Governor Hugh Carey even signed the law, but it was never implemented and has languished ever since.
Now medical marijuana advocates in New York hope that the "Antonio G. Olivieri Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Program" can be seen as a good start to getting an updated law on the books, one that covers more ailments and allows patients more options when it comes to how they procure their medicine.
There is currently an effort underway in the state legislature to get a bill through the Assembly Health Committee, and from there to the Assembly floor for a vote, where medical marijuana bills have found success is recent years. Opposition has always been a roadblock in the state Senate, but advocates hope that the dynamics on the issue are changing there as well.