Her name is Haley Hilt. She’s 11 years old — and she’s been suffering epileptic seizures since she was an infant.
“Haley is one of the medical marijuana success stories,” says Haley’s mother, Melissa.
When medical marijuana was legalized in New York four years ago, Melissa says her daughter’s seizures were reduced by 75 percent.
“Haley no longer has to suffer through three hours of car drives in order to get the medication she needs that has improved her quality of life significantly,” Melissa says.
The Hilt’s would like to see every other child whose quality of life could be improved by medical marijuana to have that chance.
“The law severely limits how many dispensaries New York can have,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D – Manhattan) points out.
Gottfried is chairman of the Assembly Health Committee. He also authored the state’s medical marijuana law which currently allows ten marijuana manufacturers four dispensaries a piece.
“So we have 40 places where people can go,” Gottfried says, “in a state with 54,000 square miles that means a lot of New Yorkers have to travel long distances to get to where medication is available.”
“We are one of the fortunate families who had one of those dispensaries open closer to us,” Melissa states, “I can’t tell you how much better it has made our life.”
More dispensaries, Melissa theorizes, would not only increase access, it would also increase medical marijuana sales and thus reduce the cost for everyone.
“It’s not cheap but in my personal opinion there’s no price you can put on your child’s health,” Melissa says.
It’s unclear how many dispensaries might be needed to serve New York’s 20 million residents. Right now there are 22, and by comparison, Florida, which has a comparable population, there are 425.