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Hundreds sound off on legalizing recreational marijuana in NYS

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Hundreds of people weighed in on legalizing recreational marijuana in New York State Wednesday night.

The Cheektowaga public event was one of 15 listening sessions hosted by the state, across the state, before new laws are drafted.

The goal is to gather input from residents and stakeholders before a decision is made whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The study, led by the Department of Health, found the positives outweigh the negatives.

Some people at the listening session called for regulation of the drug.

"You look at people who are consuming marijuana now, getting it off the street, they don't know if their product has been sprayed with pesticides, harmful chemicals," said Jack Porcari, Executive Director of WNY NORML.

Amherst resident, Susan Spellburg has been taking medical marijuana for the last three years. She pays $500 a month. Spellburg believes if recreational marijuana is legalized it will drive down medical costs.

"It's very expensive and I think once they pass it, it will go down for those of us using it medically," said Spellburg.

Will Luzier is a lawyer, also pushing to make the drug legal after he was arrested four decades ago for having marijuana on him.

"I was arrested in 1970 for possession of less than a quarter of an ounce of marijuana. Fortunately, the case was dismissed because the search was illegal. It's important for communities who have been adversely affected by the war on drugs to be able to participate," said Luzier.

Some people however, are still against the drug. They made their concerns known at the listening session.

"I don't agree with it, I don't see any benefit to the public. All of a sudden marijuana is good for us? We're going to be able to smoke marijuana, it's the cure," said one resident.

"We feel that there needs to be more and longer research to make sure this will be safe for all people," said John Gillespie, cardiologist in Buffalo.

Information from Wednesday's listening session will be passed on to the regulated marijuana work group put together by the governor. It will be considered for an adult use program and legislation if the state legalizes the drug for recreational use.


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