New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s confident legislators will legalize recreational cannabis use as part of the April 1st budget. Law enforcement who’ve for years fought a war on drugs is now shifting gears in anticipation of the change. Some of them spoke at The New York State Conference Of Governors in Albany.
“How are we going to as local law enforcement going to be able to impact that with the same number of resources we have now?” Commander Adam Hornick of the Bethlehem Police department told the crowd. He said he got some answers from a recent trip to Colorado. He says he was honored to be chosen as part of a team that included Albany DA David Soares that visited the state to observe how legal cannabis is working- and perhaps needs some changes.
They shared their observations with a crowd of community leaders at the Renaissance Hotel in Albany.
“I was very surprised with how advanced they (Colorado) were, but then there were collateral issues that I could not have foreseen.” DA David Soares says he thought legalization would have helped curtail the illegal cannabis economy. ” We found it did not.” He says Colorado’s legislation regarding selling legal pot shut out anyone with a blemished record- So illegal sales continued anyway.
As for Commander Hornick, he says it comes down to enforcement and training- especially for officers trying to detect a driver’s level of impairment. “There’s no exact level. Somebody with a nanogram level could pass our impairment test or someone with 4 times higher may not. We don’t have that ability to test those things and those are things we need to put in place first.”
One speaker cautioned about minimizing the effect marijuana can have on minors, much like underage drinking.
Audience members including Dr. Sonia Cole, a psychiatrist from Mount Vernon voiced her own concerns about how “Wall Street” might benefit more from the sales of legal pot, versus someone who may have had arrests in the past who might now want to strike out in the emerging industry. She commented on how cannabis might be able to help in areas of treatment. She suggested that it might help police officers with PTSD. “I don’t know what the final answer will be with this. But, I’m glad we are having this public health discussion. Thank you.”, Dr. Cole said.