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Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Are Now Officially Open For Business In New York

Eight of 20 are now up and running.

On Thursday (Jan. 7), eight medical marijuana dispensaries in New York opened their doors to the public -- the first in the history of the state.

Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Once the rollout is complete, the state will have 20 operating dispensaries.

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Outside Columbia Care, New York City's first-ever medical marijuana dispensary.

In the past, activists have criticized New York's Compassionate Care Act, which was signed in 2014 by Governor Andrew Cuomo, for being too stringent. Though the law legalized medical marijuana in the state, it placed strict guidelines in terms of who can obtain the drug and how it can be ingested. For one, the drug cannot be smoked -- "Patients will only have access to cannabis in the form of tinctures, concentrate for vaporization or orally ingestible capsules," the Guardian reports.

We get it, New York, you vape.

Under the CCA, the state will only issue medical marijuana ID cards to people affected by one (or more) of 10 illnesses. According to the New York Times, "The program allows medical marijuana for certified patients who have cancer, H.I.V./AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, intractable spasticity caused by damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies and Huntington’s disease."