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.