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Should marijuana be legal in New York?

The questions come up about legalizing marijuana in New York and like many laws it has advocates and detractors. There are many who believe the benefits of medical marijuana and have stated that they have merit. It has shown to be helpful for easing pain and can aid in treating illnesses involving seizures. That is a truly positive approach.

If opiates can be used as treatment for pain, why not the use of marijuana? Medical experts claim that it is not as addictive as prescription pain pills and has fewer side effects and other disadvantages. That could be a big plus.

However, there is the question, often brought up by those in law enforcement, who believe that pot can be an entry drug for the opiates which cause thousands of deaths a year. Also, many experts say that the smoking of weed is as harmful as tobacco which causes lung and associated diseases.

There is a question about addiction as well and the controversy goes on. Tobacco and alcohol are legal and they are addictive, so why not make marijuana legal as well? Many politicians are on board for passing a law to make it legal. They quote the economic benefits to the state because it can generate money in sales and other taxes. That is a huge Albany motive.

It appears that Governor Cuomo is giving serious consideration to making it legal. After all, Canada has legalized it for recreational purposes, so why discriminate against New Yorkers who want to smoke a joint to relax and forget about reality for a little while?

Like any argument with at least two sides, this one has several. For one thing, it does affect the thinking process and those who use it to excess, like with drunkards and alcohol, it can have severe consequences. The big question that pops to the front is what effect can it have if a person is high on the drug and decides to drive his car. We really don’t need more impaired drivers on our highways.

Many deaths are caused by drivers distracted by using cell phones because it takes their minds off the need to be constantly alert when on the road. The chemicals in alcohol and drugs also cause major distractions and negative impacts on judgements and reflexes. Having the use of additional mind altering drugs can cause hundreds of more vehicle deaths. Is it worth the risk?

It probably would be an excellent idea to do complete studies on the states that have legalized pot and sell it with the government restrictions and ability to increase the tax flow. Do positive economic advantages overcome the negative results of drug legalization?

Looking past the economic advantages for government spending because of increased revenue, it should also consider the financial costs of the potential down side. First question would be to determine if it really leads to the use of opiates and other illegal drugs. Does the buzz of pot prime the desire to try something stronger?

Is it addictive in itself or lead to other drug addictions. Treatment for any addiction like alcohol or currently illegal drugs is a big drain on society. The current answer is “education and treatment.” Both can be expensive and obviously has limits on effectiveness. How many people go into rehab and then go back to the habit? It would appear that the success rate is relatively low.

Can we afford the cost of property damage and medical bills caused by the impaired driver’s desire for a little chemical “recreation?” Those in favor of the legalization can claim that only a small percentage of drinkers and drug users will cause the problems. How many of the negatives ae we willing to accept?

Perhaps the argument could be to make higher penalties for those who break the law. Would it be enough discouragement to cause more people to drive sober? For example, if a person gets a felony DWI, he is unable to purchase or own a firearm for the rest of his life even if a gun was not involved with the arrest.

Usually after a period of time, the privilege of driving and owning a car can be reinstated. How about increasing the penalty of a felony DWI or DUI to cause the person to never be able to get a driver’s license to own a vehicle?

Doesn’t that make more sense?

Speaking of drugs and guns, nobody has any objections to criminals who sell, make or use illegal drugs becoming felons and losing Second Amendment rights. Criminals don’t deserve to be gun owners.

However when a person goes through a background check, the form 4473 asks “Are you an unlawful user or addicted to marijuana or other…( illegal drug)?’’

At the end of the end of the question it states. “The use and possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

Medical marijuana users in New York may not legally purchase or possess firearms. It is highly possible if a person goes to Canada, smokes a joint, is stopped at the border and charged with using marijuana, they can have their guns confiscated and never be able to own one again under the federal law.

This would make governor Cuomo very happy to have yet another reason to confiscate a citizen’s guns. We could expect him to be happy to sign that law. It would be a pleasure for him to be “tough on gun laws.” It might even be a campaign promise.

Budd Schroeder