Advocates for and against legalization of recreational marijuana squared off in Rochester Thursday night, although for some decriminalization was seen as more of a foregone conclusion to be managed for greatest benefit.

Advocates for and against legalization of recreational marijuana squared off in Rochester Thursday night, although for some decriminalization was seen as more of a foregone conclusion to be managed for greatest benefit.

"There's just a huge economic aspect that we'd miss out on if we resist legalizing, or resist embracing it in this part of the state," declared Mary Kruger with Rochester NORML,"because we don't have a say if it's going to happen. It's going to happen."

"It is dangerous and it should not be legalized," insisted Chili teacher Roberta Guild."I see marijuana affecting children's memory, their motivation, mental health, and I'm totally opposed to it being legalized."

Guild and Kruger both spoke out before a crowd assembled at the Riverside Convention Center for the 12th of 17 planned state "listening sessions" to discuss New York's future policy on legalizing and regulating recreational pot.

Facilitator Sandra Houston, a consultant engaged by Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, sought to create what she referred to as a "space" in which community members could deliver their thoughts on the marijuana issue.

"I am seeing a lot of passion," Houston said. "The variety of voices, truly a variety of voices at each of the listening sessions."

"I do not want a pro marijuana culture in this community," said Nelson Aquilano of Penfield who brought his own written rebuttal to the Cuomo Administration's analysis on marijuana legalization.

"Why should our liberty be restrained over something that really is illegal because of propaganda," asked Rochester lawyer Steve Litteer. "There's finally the opportunity here to cure an injustice."

 t Thursday's forum, anti-legalization voices like Guild kept up their opposition to the notion of legalization declaring,"I am hoping that other voices like mine can convince it to go in the other direction"

Meanwhile, Aquilano pointed to other states that have allowed marijuana sales saying, "Increasingly, the local people are saying 'I do not want marijuana in my community.'"

But marijuana advocates instead concentrated on issues they saw after legalization, seeing legalization as a foregone conclusion.

Some urged that the state ensure broad opportunity for smaller producers to make and sell marijuana products, and that costs be kept low for elderly customers.They pointed to the limited number of participants in New York's current medical marijuana market as a model to avoid for recreational use.

Another issue advocates pressed was the expungement of criminal records for those convicted of marijuana related crimes.

The question of crime was very much on the mind of Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode. VanBrederode, who is the president of the Monroe County Chiefs of Police Association, told the listening session, "The more sober a society is, the less calls we get to 911. And that's our position. We oppose this."

VanBrederode said he too saw little likelihood legalization could be prevented, citing literature emailed out by the governor's office that painted a largely positive picture of the pros and cons of allowing recreational pot sales.

"I think it's quite obvious from reading the propaganda that came out this afternoon. This is clearly going to be passed. There's no doubt about it. But I think would be a shame if we didn't at least show some leadership from the men and women who are on the streets every day dealing with this."

Houston said she planned to compile the input from the listening sessions and turn them over to policy makers after the remaining forums were completed.

After Rochester, the next one was scheduled for Tuesday in Syracuse.