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NYS police chiefs oppose efforts to legalize pot, citing dire impacts on health, public safety and soaring costs

By Billie Owens

Press release from the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, forwarded this afternoon to The Batavian by City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch:

The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police representing more than 500 police chiefs, commissioners, superintendents and other command level police executives, stands in opposition of the State’s intention to propose legislation that would legalize regulated marijuana in New York State.

As police officers, we are sworn to enforce federal, state and municipal laws and to protect the public. Marijuana is illegal under federal law and is classified as a “Schedule 1,” drug which means that the federal government views cannabis as highly addictive with no medical value.

The New England Journal of Medicine reports that “The epidemiological and preclinical data suggests that the use of marijuana in adolescence could influence multiple addictive behaviors in adulthood.” New York State is currently battling an opioid epidemic with law enforcement and public health professionals on the frontline and it would be counterintuitive to condone the use of marijuana.

Aside from the numerous health-related issues with the use of marijuana, we are concerned with how the legalization will impact public safety. Of great concern is traffic safety. New York has been making great strides in lowering traffic fatalities to the lowest numbers on record. In comparing data in Colorado (which legalized marijuana in 2013), the first year that marijuana was legalized traffic fatalities increased 62 percent in that one year.

The detection of impairment by drugs on the roadside must be performed by a certified Drug Recognition Expert, which is a law enforcement officer that has undergone at least two weeks of classroom training and an additional one week of practical field training. It is anticipated that law enforcement would have to add approximately 650 new Drug Recognition experts to handle the necessity of the increase in suspected impaired drivers.

Most law enforcement agencies within New York State have 20 or less members. Without the appropriate funding from the state, the financial impact could be crippling to some municipalities.

In addition to the need for new DRE’s, legalizing regulated marijuana would necessitate retiring a large majority of Police K-9 dogs that are trained to detect marijuana, as their detection capabilities would no longer be admissible in court. The replacement of these K-9 officers could easily take five to seven years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There has not been ample time or studies conducted in order to see what pitfalls may arise should marijuana be legalized in the State of New York. Only after bringing all stakeholders together for meetings, studies and dialog can an educated, informed decision be made.

Once again, I must emphasize that the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police is in opposition to the legalization of marijuana. I urge the State to proceed cautiously, learning from other states that have already suffered the deleterious effects of this decision, before moving forward with legalization in New York State.

Jan. 17, 2019

New York State Association of Chiefs of Police Inc.

24 Century Hill Drive, Suite 002, Latham, NY 12110

Chief John C. Aresta (Malverne PD), President
Jeffrey F. Morris, Executive Director

Christopher Putnam

AHAHAHAHAHAHA this is great. So screw what the public wants! You understand that your job is not to define the law, or make it, but only to enforce it? You job is to protect and serve us, under the laws the state passes. All the reasons you site in this are a stretch at best. The proceeds from the taxation will more than offset your increased costs. Assuming you trust the state government to allocate the funds appropriately. (lol)
Your old, stuffy generation is dying and retiring. Progressive mind are moving into positions of power in state and federal government. Minds that respect the right of the individual and what they want to do in the privacy of their home. I love that you hate it. I love that you think that some bullshit about the cost and dogs is going to stop the weed train. You have wasted BILLIONS of dollars fighting the "war on drugs" and you LOST.
So congratulations to Marijuana for winning the war on drugs.

If your still thinking that prohibition is best, maybe go back to history class and read up again on alcohol prohibition and its utter failure. Those who dont learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them.

Oh and if your still thinking prohibition works, have a look
~2 Million users in NYS.

So yeah, your whole statement above is about the money....well if its so important to you, why do you keep flushing it down the toilet?
2 Billion Spent since January 1st. All that money spent and drug use is on the rise....Really good job guys.

No one cares that its illegal, the people that use it regularly LAUGH at the fact that its still illegal and use it anyway. They dont CARE what you think over there with your booze in your hand.

Jan 18, 2019, 2:49pm Permalink
Candace Bower

Wow. Our old and stuffy generation fought the wars that gave you the freedom to make your inane lengthy comment in public. As a teacher and a counselor I have worked with children from households who over use alcohol, opioids and pot. You have no idea of these ramifications. You have no idea of the effect of pot on children's brains and the socioeconomic effects. I care that it is illegal and you use it anyway. What kind of role model is that? How many innocent people have died on the road from alcohol and drugs? Maybe you can function normally but many cannot handle drugs and alcohol. They both have caused misery and heartbreak. You ought to get out more and see that the average public is not too thrilled about this legalization. I, for one, would rather use my money in more positive ways. I'm am not a prude. I went to college in the 60's. Now I am an adult and have grown out of my bad habits.

Jan 18, 2019, 3:55pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

American in 2019: Where even conservatives now think it's OK to tell other people how to live their lives and use the power of the state to enforce their views.

Jan 18, 2019, 6:04pm Permalink
Christopher Putnam

I would say that highway fatalities and alcohol related deaths are closely linked. Because even though its illegal to drink and drive, people do it anyway.
Another example of how making it illegal doesnt solve the problem.
Go ahead and check the research from other states and nations.
The ONLY factors that effect use and abuse are Education, and Treatment.
People simply are not thinking of the long term consequences when they get behind the wheel drunk or high. The only way to minimize this is to educate and treat. Its simply the only thing that works.
People have been altering their perception for 5000 years, no one is going to stop all of a sudden because its illegal. We tried the "war on drugs" it UTTERLY FAILED.
So lets spend the money on education and treatment and see what happens.

Jan 18, 2019, 6:27pm Permalink
Christopher Putnam

Candace, Unfortunately YOU are part of the minority at this point. Sorry about your luck.
You would think being a teacher and councilor you would keep an open mind to the changing world and culture around you.……

Might be time for you to move to a more, baby boomer, or swing generation friendly state.

Jan 18, 2019, 6:35pm Permalink
Candace Bower

That was beneath you, Howard. I am not a republican or conservative. Read your own police blotter. Smoke all the pot you want. When you are high when driving, that effects me and my family. Guess I will switch over to the Daily news where I won't get insulted for relating my 50 years of working with children effected by drugs. You are losing readers...

Jan 18, 2019, 6:48pm Permalink
Candace Bower

You castigated a group of people who you do not know personally . How do you know the so called progressive way is any better than the so called conservatives? That is your opinion, of course, but I had hoped you would be more neutral in this question. I can name many intrusions into my life made by both parties, not just conservatives. Auto accidents up by 69 percent in Colorado since legalization should give you pause, too.

Jan 18, 2019, 7:39pm Permalink
Christopher Putnam

What we are trying to say dear Candace, is that its not inherently bad to smoke weed. Its the decision to get high and drive that is bad. The same way that drinking is not that bad, until you decide to get behind the wheel.

Making drunk driving illegal did not stop people from doing it.

Hence, making/keeping weed illegal is not going to stop people from doing it.

Education, Treatment. Google and be informed. Portugal decriminalized ALL drugs in 2001 and used the money for Education, and Treatment. Go look at the results for yourself. Use DOWN, Crime DOWN. Job DONE.

Here are the Traffic fatality per state. Notice how even with legal weed, Colorado still falls within the mean average. There are a few states with legal weed that are below the mean average.…

I feel thats what your not getting. My statements are based on facts and science and yours are based on your personal life experience and personal opinion.

Jan 18, 2019, 10:03pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

"You castigated a group of people who you do not know personally."

So the only way to criticize a political faction is to know each and every member of that faction personally?

Well, there goes how TV pundits make a living if that's the standard.

"How do you know the so-called progressive way is any better than the so-called conservatives? "

That's a non-sequitur. I'm not comparing conservatives with progressives. I'm comparing 2019 conservatives with true conservatives ideals.

Since you claim not to be a conservative, why does this bother you?

The conservatism I grew up with respects personal liberty, the values this country was founded on, and is against government intrusion into personal matters. That's the conservativism I still espouse.

"I had hoped you would be more neutral in this question."

These are comments. Just like a newspaper has an editorial page, The Batavian has comments. It's where I can express my views just like any newspaper editorialist. I suspect that wouldn't bother you if I were agreeing with your POV.

Jan 18, 2019, 10:41pm Permalink
Tim Miller

Although it does appear that automobile accidents did increase after the legalization of pot in Colorado and other states, they did not increase anywhere near the 69% quoted in an earlier comment.……

Many changes in laws that may affect traffic and driving can be expected to cause an increase in accidents as people become accustomed to the new law. That oversimplification is not any comfort to the folks adversely affected by those accidents, but it happens (read any good articles about traffic circles and accidents on The Batavian lately?). Unfortunately, folks who take advantage of legal pot have to learn that IT IS NOT OK TO DRIVE WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE, just as drivers had to learn about alcohol and driving. Hopefully, pot users will be quicker to learn than alcohol users.

(btw- the first link is CNN, which may be suspect to some readers. However, the 2nd and 3rd links are to actual studies quoted by the IIHS)

Jan 19, 2019, 8:31am Permalink
Daniel Norstrand

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I'd like to know the numbers for traffic increases, bar and alcohol sales, and illegal immigrants increases in Colorado just before and during the accident studies. The economy coming out of a deep, deep recession would seemingly increase traffic in general, as well as the traffic to bars, since people have more money for vehicles and recreation. Colorado has a huge number of illegals and the economic recovery more than likely has significantly increased their numbers. I lived and worked in the Denver area in the 70s and the traffic was a nightmare then. It is certainly worse now and probably much worse. Consequently, what might seem like small increases in the above mentioned variables would have an almost exponential affect on the accident statistics.
And by the way, the "war on drugs" has been a colossal failure. And the inane wars that we have been lured into under the guise of "protecting our freedom" and/or "spreading democracy" are probably responsible for many American's need to escape reality to the cloud of the weed. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Jan 19, 2019, 10:02am Permalink
david spaulding

Has anyone given thought to the increased usage of plastic bags if the legalization of marijuana comes to NYS ? Remember the bag ban ?........

Jan 19, 2019, 10:17am Permalink
Eric Dunn

David Spaulding the plastic bag ban is for single use bags. So if they put a sticker on the ones for pot and charge a returnable 5 cent deposit it should be ok...

Jan 19, 2019, 10:55am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Some 55 million people in the U.S. smoke/consume marijuana.

An increase in accidents/fatal accidents is a legitimate concern but the number of THC-related accidents compared to overall use is exceedingly small. Colorado, in fact, saw THC-related fatal accidents decrease from 2016-2017 (first and the second year of legalization).

If legalized here, there will undoubtedly be some initial bad consequences as society adjusts to the new norm. There will be people who are irresponsible with their newfound freedom. That's the nature of humanity.

Alcohol is legal, with restrictions, because the vast majority of people can consume alcohol responsibly. They don't drink-and-drive. They don't let it interfere with their work. They don't get in fights.

With 55 million Americans already using marijuana, it's clear the vast majority can also use marijuana responsibily.

It makes no sense to deny freedom to a majority based on the bad acts of a tiny minority.

It's the authoritarian mindset (what Adam Smith called the Man of System) who thinks he knows best how other people should lead their lives. I believe each individual should make their own decisions about how to lead their lives.

It's the progressive mindset that thinks through government action we can perfect society. A perfect society is impossible. We can't regulate away all bad things. We shouldn't punish the many for the acts of a few in some misguided attempt to create a perfect society.

FWIW: Lest anyone think I'm advocating for my own interests, I am not. I have no interest myself in marijuana. I simply believe in freedom and less government intrustion into private matters.

If we had an editorial page and I wrote editorials, I would editorialize on this topic with this viewpoint.

Jan 19, 2019, 12:19pm Permalink
Ray Richardson

I've read all of the comments, pro and con on this subject. In my opinion the folks who enjoy their weed are already smoking it regularly. Those who don't particularly care for it are not. I can't for the life of me see where there will be a huge rush of new stoners if it is legalized. Nor do I envision the motoring public thinking "oh boy, now that it's legal I'm going to get high and go driving around town". So the only difference I can see is that the toking public will no longer be criminals. BTW: I haven't fired up a j-bird in 45 years and I can't see myself starting now.

Jan 19, 2019, 2:11pm Permalink

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