Polling on the legalization of marijuana in New York State, which was handed by the State legislature and signed into regulation by Governor Andrew Cuomo in April 2021, has constantly discovered between 60%-65% of Westchester residents in favor of legalization, whereas 30%-35% are opposed, primarily based on Siena Faculty polling over the previous 12 months.
Two members of Westchester State delegation voted in opposition to legalization. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne. Galef mentioned, on the ground of the Meeting on the day of the vote, “I’ve considered this present day for a few years and plenty of Meeting periods and tried to do as a lot analysis as I continued to review the difficulty. And I’ve heard the Majority Chief’s ardour.
“Nevertheless, the query I all the time got here again to was- does legalizing marijuana (I’m not talking of medical marijuana which I supported) however how does legalizing marijuana assist the well being and well-being of New Yorkers?
“So I met with my constituents – lots of them who had misplaced relations to overdoses and regarded marijuana because the gateway drug in these situations, I attended city conferences to study from the consultants within the subject, I interviewed medical doctors who cared for younger adults or youngsters within the emergency rooms of hospitals who have been medically impacted by marijuana, I heard from regulation enforcement in regards to the problems with driving whereas beneath the affect of medication, I heard from representatives of different states, from the varsity group, the substance abuse group teams… and nowhere did I get a constructive reply to my important and driving query – how does legalizing marijuana assist the well being and well-being of New Yorkers.
“I additionally considered all of the laws now we have handed over time to curtail the utilization of tobacco merchandise – by prohibiting flavored cigarettes, increasing no smoking zones, and making an attempt to cope with the expanded use of vaping (particularly with our youth in our colleges) in addition to limiting vaping retailers in our communities. We proceed to handle and strengthen DWI legal guidelines and even Boating whereas intoxicated legal guidelines– 12 months after 12 months within the Meeting.
“After years of examination of the difficulty and deciding what route I’d go along with my single vote… I considered my unique query. Would legalizing marijuana make the well being and well-being of New Yorkers higher?
“So, I shall be voting no on the invoice earlier than us in the present day,” mentioned Galef.
Assemblyman Kevin Byrne wrote the next on April 1, after the vote. “All through my time within the Meeting, I’ve constantly embraced alternatives to raise burdensome restrictions on medicinal marijuana, however have additionally contended it ought to stay a managed substance. We all know there could be medicinal advantages from hashish, however its use needs to be a choice made between a affected person and their physician, nurse practitioner or doctor assistant.
“Like many within the medical group, together with the Medical Society of the State of New York, I’ve additionally constantly opposed efforts to legalize marijuana for leisure use and voted in opposition to the Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA).
“That mentioned, understanding during the last a number of years that legalization was prone to go, I made myself obtainable to take heed to colleagues and advocates to try to assist guarantee guard rails have been put in place to higher shield public well being and security ought to legalization ultimately happen.
“Sadly, it’s my dedication that most of the guard rails our state wanted to safeguard public well being and security have been absent within the MRTA. Arguments highlighting years of social injustice have been largely addressed years in the past when the state repealed most of the Rockefeller Drug Legal guidelines and extra not too long ago with final 12 months’s decriminalization invoice. Because it stands, final 12 months’s decriminalization invoice, which can have been very well-intentioned, already went too far when it eradicated the extra violations that have been beforehand enforceable in opposition to an individual who smoked hashish in public areas. This downside has now solely worsened that hashish has been absolutely legalized.
“At this time, beneath the MRTA an individual can smoke marihuana exterior wherever they will smoke tobacco, together with some public parks frequented by our youth. Tobacco and hashish are inherently totally different and needs to be regulated as such. I’ve written to the sponsor of the MRTA advocating once more for reforms that will higher allow native governments to control and limit hashish use in public areas.
“Whereas legalization will most assuredly usher in some new tax income, we all know it is going to additionally improve prices that have an effect on our state and native budgets in addition to put the well being and well-being of our households at higher danger. To me, no matter fiscal profit could exist from the MRTA is just not definitely worth the price ticket,” wrote Byrne.
Along with Galef and Byrne, the New York State PTA opposed legalization. “With the intense disaster of youth vaping and tobacco use, and within the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which impacts the lungs, whereas nonetheless battling the opioid disaster, this dangerous laws is counterintuitive. Particularly now,” the e-mail states.”Inform Albany they should heed the suggestions from main medical and public well being organizations, training teams, and the regulation enforcement group and OPPOSE the legalization of leisure marijuana.”
Democrats assist legalization by a 65%-35% margin, whereas republicans oppose legalization by the identical 65%-35% margine. Some Westchester communites are contemplating whether or not they need to “opt-out” of permitting the sale of Marijuana of their communities. Some native officers have instructed us that their communities are seriuously contemplating not permitting the sale of pot wherever, however aren’t keen to return out publicly and state it.
“I believe that our city doesn’t need to enable the sale of marijuana, however we’re not going to return out and say that proper now as a result of the sale of marijuana won’t occur till late subsequent 12 months and even 2023, and we don’t need rallies and protests in our city for 2 years,” mentioned one Westchester elected official.
A invoice for legalization, and eradicating marijuana from the Federal categorized listing of prohibited medication, is now earlier than Congress.