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Westchester Drug Prevention Groups Respond To Medical Marijuana Propsoal

Melvin Berger said he is cautiously in favor of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to allow medical marijuana in New York.
Melvin Berger said he is cautiously in favor of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to allow medical marijuana in New York. Photo Credit: File Photo

OSSINING, N.Y. -- Drug prevention groups in Westchester are hopeful legalizing medical marijuana in New York does not lead to increased marijuana use among teens.

According to reports, Gov. Andrew Cuomo intends to legalize medical marijuana in approximately 20 hospitals around the state, under extreme restrictions. It will be a limited-use program that will be made possible through an executive order.

The drug would only be available with a prescription, to treat extreme or grave illnesses such as cancer and glaucoma. Prescriptions may be given for additional diseases, which will be oversaw by the state’s Health Department.

Ossining Communities That Care Coordinator Alice Joselow, speaking on her own behalf, said it was a very complicated area.

"I believe that medical marijuana should go through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as no other drug in our nation has bypassed the review of the FDA," Joselow said. " I am very sympathetic for the parents of children with seizure disorders who are seeking the CBD rich extract from marijuana that has shown promise to reduce seizures."

Joselow said she was fearful of a dispensary-based distribution model.

"My fear is for teens, as when medical marijuana is approved in states, teen usage goes up," Joselow said. "The research is compelling that marijuana use harms the teen brain and 1 in 6 teens will become addicted.   So the challenge is to keep teens from starting to use marijuana as it can adversely affect their brain development."

Nan Miller of Mount Kisco Partners in Prevention said their mission is  to prevent underage substance use of marijuana or alcohol.

"That's what we target and are most concerned about," Miller said. "We hope the governor's proposal is as restrictive as possible like he said it is."

Miller said they are concerned about the harmful effects of smoking on the body.

"We certainly support research on marijuana and other aspects," Miller said. "Smoking is a problem."

Mount Kisco Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Council chairman Melvin Berger said they are cautiously in favor of Cuomo's plan.

"It's important that people realize marijuana is not a harmless drug," Berger said.

Berger supports limiting marijuana to 20 hospitals and only allowing physicians with a special license to dispense it to people over 21.

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