Local leaders explain opposition to legalizing recreational pot

Emily Burkhard
Created: March 29, 2021 11:49 PM

ALBANY - Legalizing recreational pot may seem like a done deal in New York, but opponents say the fight is not over yet. They gathered Monday to explain why they believe lawmakers should vote no.

“I say to our legislators, if you vote yes on this legislation you are voting to harm my child,” said Kyle Belokopitsky, Executive Director of the New York State Parent Teacher Association.

“If you think that this won't filter down to our schools you're sadly mistaken and you're no student of history,” said Dave Little, Executive Director of Rural Schools Association.

Opponents said in states like California, Nevada and Oregon, use among children rose "significantly" after adult recreational use became legal.

They're also worried about impaired driving, as no standard test or legal THC threshold has been established.

They also say states like Colorado saw a 150 percent increase in marijuana related driving deaths after recreational use was legalized.

“The sheriffs across New York state feel united and saying that if this bill is passed our people in each of our respective counties will be less safe,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol.

Representatives for contractors and builders say because of the state's Scaffold Law, construction workers could come to work high and injure themselves or others and the property owners would still be on the hook.

“So before we legalize marijuana we need to fix liability laws that again only exist in New York so that we can truly do this responsibly,” said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.

The bill sets aside money for studies on marijuana, but opponents said that's flawed logic.

“It's akin to saying we're on a broken airplane and we're going to takeoff and we're going to fix everything once we're up there,” said Patrick Phelan, President of New York State Association of Chiefs of Police. “You need to prepare for the impaired driving issues before you legalize the drug."

Opponents said if the legislation passes, they'll continue to fight to repeal it.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.


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