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Public meeting on marijuana legalization held in Queens

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JAMAICA, Queens — It's time to talk about marijuana.

New York State wants to hear your views. A series of listening sessions have come to New York City and Monday night New Yorkers were able to sound off in Jamaica, Queens.

Philip McManus, a retired NYPD officer, was forcefully against legalization.

He said, "You've already decided that you want to poison our children. You want to make money on our children."

People lined up to take their turn at the microphone. Including Jaime Rodriguez, who said he is pro pot.

He said prescription opioids have been horrible for his family.

"I just wish that this was legalized," he said. "Just from the studies alone, it's just a safer alternative medicine."

When Governor Cuomo announced the series of listening sessions across the state, he said it would allow community input into regulated marijuana legislation.

While many in the room were in favor legalization, there were concerns about how it would be implemented.

One worry is that big companies will take over, blocking minority and female pot entrepreneurs.

Others want people will previous marijuana arrests to have their records wiped clean.

Queens State Senator Leroy Comrie said there is a lot to consider when drafting legislation.

"How do we deal with the criminal justice impact? How do we deal with revenue?"

Dr. Peter Lombardo of the New York County Medical Society said he's worried legalized marijuana would end up in the wrong hands.

"We feel that young people should not have marijuana marketed to them," he said.

The listening sessions continue into October across the state. If marijuana legalization legislation does materialize, Albany insiders predict that would happen until 2019.

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