Potential Medical Marijuana Site in WNY

January 18, 2014 Updated Jan 18, 2014 at 12:16 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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January 18, 2014 Updated Jan 18, 2014 at 12:16 AM EDT

BUFFALO (WKBW) Twenty hospitals across New York State would be allowed to take part in the Governor's plan to legalize medical marijuana, as announced in last week's State of the State Address. And Roswell Park Cancer Institute here in Buffalo could be one of those sites.

"It's my understanding that Roswell continues to be on a short list of healthcare institutions that are being considered for this rollout," Dr. Martin Mahoney of Roswell said.

There is growing local support behind having Roswell be the site in Western New York to research the benefits of medical marijuana, especially on cancer patients.

"I think Roswell is a great choice not only because they have great capacity to study it, and really see what the effects are, and how it's working and how we're able to dispense it, and if it's meeting peoples needs but also they have a lot of people there that would really benefit," Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gail Burstein said.

Under Cuomo's plan, marijuana would only be made available through a doctor, for patients with "life-threatening conditions." Local doctors are also pushing for medical marijuana in a pill or spray form to take the away the misconception that patients would be smoking it to get high.

"If you make it into a prescription medication, it'll be less likely to get the high and really have the medicinal effects that we are seeking," Dr. Burstein said.

"This would not be unregulated, ready, broad access. It would be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life," Dr. Mahoney added.

There is no timetable at this point for the rollout of the pilot program. The Erie County Health Department says it will take its cues from the state, but would like to see one of the twenty sites here in Western New York.