Cuomo Starting to Balk on Recreational Marijuana

By Kathy Kahn

As pushback continues to soar from law enforcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is having second thoughts about making recreational marijuana legal in New York.

At a recent Rockland Business Association meeting in February at the Pearl River Hilton, an overflow crowd listened to Rockland County Sheriff Lou Falco speak on the massive burden facing law enforcement if weed becomes legal.
With all 62 county sheriffs signing a petition asking Cuomo to leave the option out of the new budget, others in Rockland have voiced similar concerns, saying pot is definitely a gateway drug, with many young people already embracing vaping. “We worried about cigarette smoking as a ‘gateway’ drug—now it’s become more serious, with many underage teens vaping, as if it is a deterrent from smoking,” he says.

Moore went on to say that 2019 saw 11 deaths from opioid abuse in the county—six of them occurring in Stony Point. “We encourage parents and anyone who leaves controlled prescription drugs in their home that could be accessed by visitors to lock them up,” he said. “If they are no longer using them, we encourage them to dispose of them through their local police departments. (You can also throw them in the garbage, but please do NOT flush down the toilet!)”

“We recently saw a big drug bust in Haverstraw that included a few of those dealers living in our own community—people dealing heroin and other controlled substances,” he continued. “How can police handle yet another legalized drug to be added to the mix, when it took years for law enforcement to create ways to determine just how intoxicated someone was from drinking? We do not have the same equipment to measure the THC levels in an intoxicated driver if we spot someone behind the wheel of a car that appears intoxicated.”

Apparently, Governor Cuomo is having second thoughts on legalizing recreational marijuana as well, despite a lengthy report from the NYS Health Department concluding that the positives outweigh the negatives. New York already has medical marijuana as an alternative for those with Parkinson’s and other debilitating illnesses that are relieved by medicinal pot, but the prices are beyond what many can afford and are not covered by any form of insurance, since marijuana is still a Federal Schedule I drug. It has made many turns to local dealers to buy it in smokable form, although THC has little benefit to combatting pain. “It’s just cheaper,” said one regular smoker with rheumatoid arthritis. “And it’s safer than all the drugs the pharmaceutical industry has pushed down our throats.”

Cuomo embraced the $300 million in additional tax revenue recreational marijuana would bring by 2020, but many say the potential for increased traffic infractions and fatalities outweigh the benefits of making weed legal for those over 21.

Besides making recreational marijuana legal, the $176 billion budget Cuomo has presented to lawmakers also includes a permanent two percent tax cap, which is also getting pushback from municipalities that might be forced to override it if they cannot make ends meet. Cuomo, who has prided himself on having the state budget signed by Apri –including those last-minute midnight deals that leave many scratching their heads in disbelief—may find himself in a sticky situation with his Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly, many who do not agree with the proposals he has put forth.