Copy-NY launches medical marijuana program Thursday

(CNN) - New York is the latest state to allow its citizens to use medical marijuana.

The Empire State kicked off its medical marijuana program Thursday with eight dispensaries opening for business.

The program comes 18 months after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act.

It makes non-smokeable forms of medical marijuana available to New Yorkers.

But the patients must register and receive a prescription from a physician approved by the state.

Five manufacturers are expected to open 20 dispensaries across the state.

Twenty-two other states and the District of Columbia have similar programs.

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