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Marijuana-based drug to undergo New York state trials

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As the State Legislature debates the legalization of medical marijuana, the Cuomo administration has announced plans to conduct trials of a marijuana-based drug to potentially treat seizures in children.

The State Health Department has agreed to work with a British pharmaceutical company to conduct trials in New York on a drug that contains a compound found in marijuana to see whether it can help children who suffer from two rare forms of seizures that don't respond to other medications.

Dr. Michael Berg, is a neurologist at the Strong Epilepsy Center in Rochester. He says well-controlled scientific research is important here because children are not typically exposed to marijuana.

"And so we're talking about giving this substance to this developing brain. There really isn't much basis to say it's potentially safe, as you could argue for its use in adults. So I think it deserves an additional level of caution."

Berg says so far, there is only anecdotal evidence that the marijuana compound, cannabidiol, can help children with these two rare seizure disorders. 

The clinical trials in New York State still require the approval of the FDA.

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