On Thursday New York State will officially launch its medical marijuana program. So far Five companies have been licensed to grow medical pot, including one in Orange County.

The move comes 18 months after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act. The new law, which was signed in July of 2014, includes provisions to ensure medical marijuana is reserved only for patients with serious conditions. The plan is for medical marijuana to be given out and managed in a manner that protects public health and safety.

One of the five companies allowed to grow pot is PharmaCann LLC. The Illinois-based company was selected to grow in Hamptonburgh. The site is being built at Hudson Valley Crossing off of Neelytown Road. The company will have dispensaries in the Bronx, as well as, Albany, Erie, and Onondaga counties.

Etain LLC will distribute medical marijuana in Ulster County, at 445 State Route 28 in Kingston. The family-run, women-owned business will grow in Warren County and will also dispense in Westchester, Albany, and Onondaga counties.

"Our goal at the New York State Department of Health has always been to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the best and safest treatments possible," New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker said in a statement. "To deny a patient of a potential therapy - such as medical marijuana - that may alleviate suffering and enhance one's quality of life fails to meet that vital goal."

To buy medical marijuana, patients must be certified by a state-approved doctor and show a registry ID card.