Syracuse drug prevention experts are concerned about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in New York State.
If legalized, Kein Trease from Prevention Network CNY is worried about increased availability, especially youth gaining easier access to it. Trease says they’ve already see more young people using marijuana in states that have already legalized it, leading to other concerns.
“You are looking at the increase of under the influence driving and all of that. Obviously, with more access and with the effect that more people will be using it because it is going to be legal. You have seen an influence in the states that has already legalized it with under the influence driving.”
Governor Cuomo’s amended legislation proposes legalizing marijuana and updating related criminal charges, which he says will create jobs and generate tax revenue.
The main form of marijuana use is smoking its plant form, but other methods such as edibles or oils worry prevention groups, since they are have higher concentrations of THC. Trease explains the concentrated forms can delay the effects of the drug.
“Sometimes you are taking two or three doses before you can start to feel it. At that point there is nothing you can do, you have taken more than your body can handle. That is where we are seeing people admitted to hospitals whether they are sick or just hallucinating with too much THC in their systems.”
Trease says some youth are unaware of these consequences, especially as T-H-C concentrates are increasing to more harmful levels. As an educator for drug prevention, Trease says he might have to alter his prevention strategies.
“Now we have to almost like what we do with alcohol, when you turn 21 and it is legal for them to use. You need to switch up your strategy and be aware of what the problems are and how to make smarter decisions around the use, if you are going to use. ”
As part of the amended legislation, Cuomo pledged:
- $100 Million in Social Equity funding
- Enable use of delivery services
- Refining criminal charges to punish sales to youth
- Reduce impact on communities hit hardest by the war on drugs
- Support community revitalization efforts
He expects the industry to create tens of thousands of jobs and as much as $350 Million in tax revenue if approved. More details on the Marijuana Legalization bill can be found here.