Citizen-Proposed Act Brings Marijuana Discussion to City Level

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It's a lesson Daniel Ryszka's carried since his days in pharmacy school.

"Do the right thing always and make sure your patients' safety is of the utmost importance," said Ryszka, now a registered pharmacist.

Safety is something he worries about when it comes to treating his own children. Both suffer from violent seizures. His daughter takes 32 doses of medications a day, while his son takes 26. Side effects range from cardiovascular disease to cardiac changes to death.

"My question is: how can something that the FDA has approved as safe be allowed, but cannabis, which has zero deaths, be illegal?" Ryszka asked.

He was one of the people the Common Council's legislation committee heard from Tuesday in support of the Buffalo Marijuana Act. It was proposed by the Buffalo Cannabis Movement.

The act calls for full decriminalization of possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana - an increase from the current 25 grams. It would also allow people to grow industrial hemp, which has less than 1 percent of the chemical that produces a recreational high.

Finally, it aims to make medical marijuana accessible upon a doctor's recommendation for a number of conditions, rather than for the limited number currently covered under New York law.

"The conversation is healthy, really, to talk about it and to figure out where we are on the medical marijuana as a city," said Council President Darius Pridgen.

Pridgen says this isn't yet an official item before members, but says he fully supports the medical marijuana portion.

"You know, we're not talking about a child rolling up a joint and smoking it. This comes in all type of different forms that could help prolong the life or make the life - especially of children - better," Pridgen said.

Members say since official legislation hasn't been put together, it's hard to say what parts of the act would be superseded by state law or what the city could legally enforce.

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