Legislative Gazette file photo
With the legalization of recreational marijuana all but a certainty in the state budget, a coalition of parents, police and doctors is urging the Legislature to remove the issue from budget negotiations.
In an open letter to lawmakers, the organizations say legalization and commercialization of recreational marijuana creates a serious public and child health threat and sends a mixed message to young people that using recreational marijuana is acceptable.
Legalization of recreational marijuana would further strain the public health workforce and professionals who are responding day and night to the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter states.
“We need to take a cautious approach to protecting public health infrastructure in New York state,” reads a letter penned by the Medical Society of the State of NY, the New York State Parent Teacher Association, the Rural Schools Association, the Association of Chiefs of Police, the State Sheriffs’ Association, the Association of County Health Officials and Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
“We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the serious crisis of youth vaping and the continuing opioid epidemic, this harmful legislation is counterintuitive.
The group points to a slew of data they say should serve as a warning to parents and public health professionals, some it pulled from California, which legalized adult-use recreational cannabis in 2016, and other states where legalization has been approved in recent years.
A new report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that children in California are significantly more likely to use marijuana since its legalization there in 2016. Data from more than three million 7th, 9th, and 11th grade students who participated in the California Healthy Kids Survey from 2010-2011 through 2018-2019 school years revealed a “significant increase” in marijuana usage. This data revealed