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Marijuana advocates speak out at state's first legalization 'listening session'

National Public Radio

Marijuana advocates say New York lawmakers should legalize pot for adults, make it affordable and let people grow their own.

Of about 30 people who spoke at the first of 15 "listening sessions" on legalizing recreational marijuana Wednesday evening, most touted its therapeutic qualities. A few spoke against legalization, citing potential adverse health effects.

The session was held in Albany. Marijuana will be a big issue when lawmakers return to Albany in January.

In July, state health officials recommended legalizing recreational marijuana in a 74-page report found the benefits of legal adult-use marijuana outweigh the detriments and that it could generate an estimated nearly $700 million for the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed a 20-member panel of community members and stakeholders to draft legislation. While the Democrat has long opposed legalization, he has softened his stance under pressure from proponents, including actress Cynthia Nixon, who's challenging him in a primary next week.

One listening session will take place for the Western New York region, to be held in Buffalo on Oct. 3 at a venue to be decided.

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