Medical Marijuana Supporters Say Expansion Good 1st Step Toward Helping More People

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- Daniel Ryszka's two children are among the relative handful of people across New York state to have been approved for a medical marijuana perscription, in an effort to keep their epilepsy under control. His daughter began treatment in February, and his son started in April.

"My daughter responded almost immediately," Ryszka said. "It was amazing how fast. Her seizures went from every single day, numerous seizures, to we're at one seizure a month now."

Overall, the medical marijuana is a small portion of the medication Ryszka's children take to keep their epilepsy under control, but Ryszka says the results are undeniable.

"As a result from him being on this, we are now off of oxygen," Ryszka said of his son. "He's off about $10,000 worth of pharmaceutics each month."

Ryszka, a pharmacist and parent advocate, says he's glad to see the state health department roll out recommendations aimed at expanding the state's medical marijuana program. One he especially looks forward to is allowing nurse practitioners to certify patients for the program.

"It's huge, because they're the ones that see the patients more often than the doctors," he said.

Anthony Baney, a volunteer with the Buffalo Cannabis Movement, says allowing registered organizations to offer home delivery is also big.

"I think that the home delivery will help a lot of the patients that are very severely disabled," Baney said. "It also might help with the cost, too. If they have to travel a long distance, it could help them."

Both Baney and Edward Garrett, the executive director of the Western New York chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Law, said there's still work left to be done. They'd like to see more conditions, like PTSD and RA, covered by the program, and they're also pushing for medical marijuana to be covered by insurance.

"If you're already paying a premium for a product that's being forced down your throat, what on earth good is it?" asked Garrett.

Ryszka also says progress could be made, including when it comes to physician education about the program, but all agree: It's a good start.

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