New York Health Department In Favor Of Legalized Cannabis

By Benjie Cooper

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The New York Health Department released a report Friday entitled Assessment of the Potential Impact of Regulated Marijuana in New York State.

In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo commissioned the report which is coming out in favor of a regulated legal cannabis market in New York.

The seventy-five-page report delves into the potential impacts that legal marijuana might have on criminal justice, public safety, health, economics, and education. The document also looks at the effect of legalization in other states across the country, taking particular note of nearby ones and their implications for New York.

The report states that regulating cannabis reduces risks associated with black market marijuana by improving quality control and consumer protection in the form of laboratory testing for potency and contaminants such as heavy metals, mold, fungi spores, bacteria, and pesticides.

“Similar protections are in place for the alcohol and tobacco industries,” states the report. “In a regulated environment, individuals know what they are consuming and can choose a product accordingly.”

Along with stating the potential for significant tax revenue that would come with legalization, the authors of the report recommend that New York State work toward expunging previous drug-related offenses the way that San Francisco and San Diego are currently doing.

Noting the state’s higher-than-average arrest rate, the authors write that marijuana prohibition results in a disproportionate arrest rate with specific racial and ethnic groups and that the resulting criminal records impede their success in life.

Acknowledging the state’s problems with Spice, the report states that “Legalizing marijuana results in a reduction in the use of synthetic cannabinoids/novel psychoactive substances.”

“The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in NYS outweigh the potential impacts,” reads the report’s conclusion. “Areas that may be a cause for concern can be mitigated with regulation and proper use of public education that is tailored to address key populations.”

Authors of the report believe that legalization will not lead to increased cannabis use, and say it has the potential to save lives by reducing opioid prescriptions and deaths.