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New state report calls for legalization of recreational marijuana

(NEWS10) - New York State health officials are recommending the legalization of marijuana in a new report.

The report found that the benefits of marijuana outweigh the potential negative effects and that any concerns could be resolved through proper regulation. One major finding was the impact it has on public health.

NEWS10 ABC was speaking with Melissa Hilt and her daughter, Haley, on Friday when Haley starting having a seizure. It’s a situation they go through daily because of a rare genetic condition. At one point, Haley was having hundreds of seizures a day. Now, 11-years old, Melissa said her daughter's seizures have decreased significantly since she started taking medical marijuana.

“We got to meet our daughter,” Melissa said. “You know, all of a sudden she was alert and she was looking at us and she was interacting with us.”

The new report released on Friday backed up her opinion and recommended it be legalized for recreational use. Melissa feels that could improve the experience for her daughter and patients across the state by increasing access to dispensaries and various strains.

“We have seen people have success in stopping seizures,” she said. “The more seizure-control Haley has, the better off she’ll be.”

She also hopes it’ll reduce costs since they’re currently paying $500 each month for Haley’s medication. But she, like pharmacist John McDonald, would want to make sure it’s regulated.

“There can be negative impacts and they really need to have an open conversation with their healthcare professionals,” McDonald said. “Have a quality control process in place to make sure that if you’re buying three ounces of this, you’re getting three ounces of this.”

For now, Melissa remains cautious but hopeful that treatment for her daughter will improve in the future.

“It’s just something that we need to be very careful in how we institute, but it’s something that I’m 100 percent behind actually doing,” she said.

Even with the report, it will be up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers to propose legislation to legalize marijuana across the state.

Other benefits highlighted in the report include suggestions that the state could raise nearly $700 million in tax revenue and that use by adults or teenagers would not dramatically increase. It also explains that legalization could reduce overprescribing opioids and disproportionate criminalization of minorities.

Read the full report.


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