New York progressives are chomping at the bit to legalize recreational marijuana in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is, too. But as the 2019 legislative session approaches, more voices are expressing concern about this ill-advised plan.
One such voice is Susan Salamone of Putnam County, whose son, Justin, died of a heroin overdose. Salamone, a member of Gov. Cuomo’s anti-opioid task force, contends that marijuana was a gateway drug for her son. When she speaks about addiction in schools and students argue that marijuana is not dangerous, Salamone shows them a picture of her sons and says, “‘Three of these boys experimented with marijuana and one of them died of a heroin overdose. It‘s not going to be everybody but you don’t know if it’s going to be you.'” Salamone contends that “the support of recreational pot [is] counterproductive to efforts to curb New York’s drug epidemic.” She adds, “‘It’s unbelievable to me [that] the governor’s spending millions of dollars on this heroin epidemic and now we’re legalizing marijuana, does any of it make any sense?'”
Also, the New York State Association of County Health Officials recently “called on lawmakers to ‘approach legalization thoughtfully and with extreme caution.'” Its concerns include “‘future high risk‘ of addiction to other drugs, harmful cognitive and academic effects, adverse cardiac and respiratory events, unintentional exposure to children, and crashes resulting from drugged driving.” While the Association is “fundamentally opposed” to recreational marijuana, it is calling for any legalization measure to include safeguards such as a ban on the indoor use of marijuana in public places, studies to help establish tests for marijuana-impaired drivers, education on the harms of marijuana use, and a minimum age of 21 for marijuana purchasers.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms agrees with the Association’s proposed safeguards, but hopes to persuade the Legislature to abandon pot legalization altogether.