This is not good news for legal marijuana advocates and should be opposed and worked around. As with what Governor Chris Christie did in NJ, or the mistakes made in Connecticut (legal since May 2012, however the state still has no dispensaries!), a baby step like this will do more to delay medical marijuana for most people and legalization in general than doing nothing.
Making medical marijuana legal for a very limited number of people doesn't help the hundreds of thousands in jail for possession, nor the hundreds of thousands more who will be incarcerated in the coming years due to way-out-of-line draconian New York State and Federal drug laws.
The continued destruction of lives by criminalization and incarceration for a benign activity partaken of by so many is a social injustice equal to denying sick people medicine that will improve their quality of life.
The final paragraph of the New York Times article shines a harsh light on how nonsensical U.S. law on the subject is:
"...[if the state loosens restrictions] New York will have to find an alternative supply of cannabis. The likely sources could include the federal government or law enforcement agencies, officials said."
A state government makes a substance legal but has to get its supply from the Federal Government which still considers it illegal. Only in America.
While it's good news that national figures like Governor Cuomo and Dr. Sanjay Gupta are finally moving away from their arcane and harmful hardline stances against marijuana, latecomers with political agendas cannot be allowed to lead us down a path of impedance.
Learning the lessons of New Jersey and Connecticut while following the examples set by Colorado, Washington, and California will be key to freeing the U.S. from the shackles of Puritanical Prohibition laws.