Legal marijuana in NY: Concerns from PTA, other opposition groups

Marijuana legalization in NY, NJ

NEW YORK — Recreational marijuana may be legal in New York, but while advocates celebrated a long-fought win, those who opposed the bill raised concerns.

Among those against legalization was the New York State Parent Teacher Association.

“What we see in California, Nevada, Oregon and other stations that have already legalized, once legalized youth marijuana usage increases significantly,” PTA Executive Director Kyle Belokopitsky said.

And the PTA is not alone. Several organizations have expressed worries about public health, driving safety and other potential issues. Here’s what they had to say:

Medical Society of the State of NY

“We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the serious crisis of youth vaping and the continuing opioid epidemic, this harmful legislation is counterintuitive,” said an open letter signed by the Medical Society of the State of NY, New York State Parent Teacher Association, New York Sheriff’s Association and several other organizations on March 11.

NYS Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in January his renewed push for a recreational market in New York, ASAP Executive Director John Coppola warned that legalizing marijuana could lead to addiction for some people.

On Tuesday, he said: “Not unlike alcohol or other drugs, I think marijuana has some public health implications.”

New York State Association of Chiefs of Police

While it remains illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired by marijuana use, driving under the influence is still a major worry.

Patrick Phelan, with the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, expressed concern about a possible increase in traffic fatalities.

“In every state where marijuana has been legalized, you’ve seen an increase of traffic accidents and traffic fatalities,” Phelan said.

New York Sheriff’s Association

The organization voted to approve a resolution in 2020 officially opposing legislative efforts to legalize marijuana. The NYSSA also co-signed the March 11 open letter against legalization. 

NYS Catholic Conference

Dennis Poust, interim executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, likened the law to dealing illegal drugs.

“‘Embraces a new industry…’ That would be drug dealing,” he tweeted along with a copy of Gov. Cuomo’s statement after the Legislature passed the legalization bill.

This story comprises reporting from PIX11 News affiliate NEWS10 and Jamie DeLine.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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