Law enforcement and public health agencies around New York State banded together on Thursday, Feb. 7 to announce their opposition to legalization of marijuana in New York State. A press conference held in Geneseo was one of many held around the state. ”It’s simple for us,” said Livingston County Sheriff Dougherty. “It’s all about public safety.” Added Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan, of the New York Association of Chiefs of Police, “This is a plea for public safety…it’s not a philosophical debate as to whether it’s right or wrong to legalize
marijuana….There is a clear and present danger to traffic and public safety. It’s undeniable and it’s statistically provable.”
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Citing statistics from Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legalized, it was noted that 70 percent of those who smoke marijuana admitted to driving after doing so. In Colorado, traffic deaths are statistically up 151%. The crime rate in Colorado increased 11 times faster than the rest of the nation, since recreational marijuana use was legalized.
Paul Pettit, Director of Health for Genesee and Orleans Counties and President of the NYS of County Heath Officers also spoke, saying his agency was joining the law enforcement agencies in opposing the legalization of marijuana, because legalization for adults would give unintended exposure to children, and increased availability to adolescents…we are in opposition from a health point of view…” A
spokesperson for CASA-Trinity also echoed Petti’s concern for legalization of marijuana for adults leading to greater availability to younger people, leading to more serious addictions which often started with recreational use of marijuana.
The press conference, of which many were held all over New York State by law enforcement and public safety professionals, was in response to the possibility of recreational marijuana being legalized in New York State. “We hope legislators will listen to the experts,” Dougherty later commented. “Legalization of recreational use of marijuana is a big mistake from a safety and health point of view.”
Photo: Tom Dougherty, Livingston County Sheriff (center) and Patrick Phelan (right) of Monroe County, backed by a large group of law enforcement and public health officials, spoke out against legalization of recreational marijuana because of traffic safety and public health concerns.