NYS Legislature Votes to Legalize Medical Marijuana

June 20, 2014 Updated Jun 20, 2014 at 5:15 PM EDT

By WKBW News

June 20, 2014 Updated Jun 20, 2014 at 5:15 PM EDT

ALBANY (WKBW) With a 49-10 vote and a swing of the gavel, New York State became the 23rd state in the country to legalize medical marijuana. The Assembly adopted the bill known as the Compassionate Care Act Friday morning, and the Senate followed suit Friday afternoon.

"While we pass hundreds of bills throughout the year, at the end of the day this will have a direct impact on the health and wellness and comfort and quality of life of individuals by the thousands across New York State, especially those who are suffering from debilitating and painful diseases," Senator Tim Kennedy said.

The bill allows those with serious or life threatening illnesses to be treated with small doses of marijuana in oil, edible, or vapor form. Smoking will not be legalized, and the entire process will fall under strict state control.

"You're not going to be able to go into a pharmacy and get this stuff. And you're not going to be able to walk out like they do in Colorado with bags of marijuana," Senator Mark Grisanti said.

It was an emotional end to a long fight for those whose family members suffer from epilepsy, MS, cancer, AIDS, and other severe diseases who celebrated and hugged in the public viewing area of the Senate as the bill was passed.

The Compassionate Care Act will now go to the governor's desk to be signed into law. That is expected to happen soon.

The full program will then be rolled out over a course of multiple months, but the bill does allow people who need it immediately to receive medical marijuana from the Department of Health right away.