I Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
As part of his annual budget proposal in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his version of a bill to legalize and commercialize the sale of recreational marijuana.
It’s not a pretty picture.
Marijuana is a dangerous drug. It should not be a legal drug. Legalizing marijuana would legitimize and encourage its use, would lead to public health and traffic safety problems, would likely fail to produce as much tax revenue as advertised, and would invite big marijuana companies to advertise their unhealthy product and entice New Yorkers to get hooked on it. Just as Gov. Cuomo’s 2013 casino amendment invited the gambling industry to prey upon gambling-addicted New Yorkers for its own profit, a recreational marijuana law would invite big marijuana companies to prey upon marijuana-addicted New Yorkers for their own profit. It would also allow them to spend millions of advertising dollars for the purpose of getting even more New Yorkers hooked on the drug.
At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, there is no recreational marijuana proposal that we could ever consider acceptable. With that said, there are specific aspects of the Governor’s proposal that are especially problematic.
First, the Governor’s proposal fails to provide for adequate local control. The proposal would allow cities and towns of 100,000 or more residents, as well as counties of any size, to ban the sale or production of marijuana. Other cities and towns would be allowed to regulate the hours and location of pot-related facilities, but would not have the authority to ban them entirely. While this level of local control is better than nothing, it still leaves most New York municipalities powerless to stop pot shops from opening within their boundaries if the counties in which they are situated fail to take legislative action.
Second, the Utica Observer-Dispatch reports that “pot cafes and lounges would be banned from opening within 500 feet of schools and 200 feet of a church, synagogue or other place of worship.” In other words, the Governor doesn’t want to let a pot shop open next door to your church, but he’s just fine with letting one open down the block. This approach is a slap in the face to Christians and all other people of faith.
At this time, the Governor’s pot proposal differs from the marijuana legalization bills that have been introduced in the State Legislature. Disagreements between the Governor and the Legislature (especially disagreements over how the associated tax revenue would be spent) derailed recreational marijuana in 2019. Could the same thing happen in 2020? We hope so.