NY's critically ill get faster access to medical marijuana

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York will give patients with certain serious illnesses faster access to medical marijuana as the state works out the details of its full medical cannabis program.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday that will speed up access to the drug for people facing degenerative diseases and the threat of serious health risks. Under the measure the state will work with regulated producers who can provide marijuana to patients as soon as possible.

New York's medical marijuana program is expected to be operational in January -- a full 18 months after lawmakers approved it.

People with AIDS, terminal cancers and the parents of children with severe epilepsy have long sought early access, arguing that critically ill individuals shouldn't have to wait any longer.