Assemblywoman Buttenschon: Additional Research, Safety Programs Needed Before Marijuana Legalization Should Proceed

“While I support the use of medical marijuana under the care and guidance of a medical professional, I voted against legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana for New Yorkers ages 21 and older. Creating a new legal marketplace for a federally illicit substance is a complicated process, and we shouldn’t jump into this headlong before addressing health, safety and revenue concerns.

“The current limited technology to detect marijuana use puts significant strain on the ability of our local law enforcement officers to do their jobs and protect our families. The Mohawk Valley, for instance, has a limited number of drug recognition experts (DREs) who are trained to detect driver impairment. If a police officer suspects a driver is impaired, they have to call in a DRE officer before they can proceed. This training is costly and extensive, and legalizing marijuana without dedicated funding for DREs would create an additional burden on local departments who are currently focused on recent police reforms. Our communities also have existing drug rehabilitation and treatment needs that could be exacerbated with a new legal substance on the market.

“As we’ve move into a long awaited environmentally friendly conservation, we have to address the unsustainable electric consumption and waste that cannabis cultivation centers implement. Cannabis production requires a vast amount of pesticides, energy, and water usage. Without sustainable energy goals in place, rules on issues like industrial wastewater, water resources, and land management for cannabis growers sets the Mohawk Valley up for a potential grid impact. Passing marijuana legalization before ensuring that strong, commonsense safety measures are in place, only puts our communities at risk and sets us up for failure.

“In addition, the proposed tax structure would shortchange counties on critical revenue and make it harder for local governments to address the consequences of legalization. I’ll always put the health and safety of our families first, which is why I can’t support this current bill.”