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Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond joined fellow Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police from across the state today, along with county public health officials, representatives of the Parent Teacher Association of New York, the American Automobile Association and the national organization, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, to declare their unified opposition to the proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in New York State. Representatives of those organizations spoke at simultaneous press events in Albany, Utica, Geneseo and Watertown.

Speaking as president of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol said, “As Sheriff, my job is to keep our citizens safe. If this proposal passes our citizens will be less safe”. The Sheriffs cited data from Colorado which shows that annual marijuana related traffic deaths have increased there by 151 per cent since legalization. They also cited data from other states that have legalized marijuana to show that teen use of marijuana rises sharply when adult use is legalized.

Police Chief John Aresta of Malverne, N.Y., president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police said, “We are trying to get a handle on the terrible opioid problem in New York, and now is not the time to legalize marijuana, which would only add to that problem. In 2017 Governor Cuomo correctly pointed out that marijuana is a “gateway drug” which leads to the abuse of other drugs. In 2019 he claims it is not. What has changed other than the desire for easy money in the state coffers?”

Sara Ravenhall, Executive Director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials, pointed out the concerns of local public health officials. “Protecting public health must be the first major pillar of a regulated marijuana program and must be funded sufficiently to ensure harm reduction. We prefer the state not enact this legislation, but if they do, they need to be certain to provide the resources that all of us on the front lines will need to best protect the public from a variety of very serious risks.”

“We strongly oppose the establishment of legalized recreational marijuana, which creates a serious public health threat and sends a mixed message to young people that using recreational marijuana is acceptable. In 2017 the American Medical Association stated that marijuana is a dangerous drug, a serious public health concern, and that the sale of marijuana for recreational use should not be legalized. We need to listen to experts on this, and must do more to protect our children from substance use disorders. This is the wrong move for New York State, our children and their families,” offered Kyle Belokopitsky, NYS PTA Executive Director.

John Corlett, legislative committee chairman for AAA New York State, emphasized the precipitous increase in traffic accidents and fatalities that has followed legalization in other states, and warned of a similar outcome in New York should the legislation become law. “There are significant traffic safety concerns regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana. We urge the legislature to pause and strongly consider the impact this measure could have on the safety of our roadways.”

Luke Niforatos, chief-of-staff and senior policy advisor for the non-profit advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana said, “Legalization of marijuana is not truly about social justice, it’s about big business and profit at the expense of the public health and safety of our communities.”

Several speakers pointed out that those states which have legalized marijuana have not come near to receiving the revenue that they projected. Taking into account the increased local costs for police, health services and social services, legalization has resulted in a net revenue loss. They pointed out that that might not concern the State too much because most of the increased costs related to legalization are incurred by local governments, which means they are unfunded mandates from the State.