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NYSAC voices concerns about legalizing marijuana

A new report from the New York State Association of Counties lays out concerns local governments have with legalizing adult use marijuana too hastily.

Although the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act includes an opt out clause for localities unwilling to participate in the sale of marijuana (they can pass local laws or a resolution negating it) NYSAC says their scope of unease extends further.

“There are many facets of the Governor’s plan, and county officials are exploring the entire proposal. There is industrial hemp, CBD oils for therapeutic applications, and the adult use of marijuana,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario. “Our current public health efforts combating tobacco use will double when we are talking about cannabis, including educational campaigns and cessation programs.”

The group says potential impact on public health and safety, economic development and criminal justice must be recognized, and the public educated on these changes.

They cite the Department of Health’s 2018 report commissioned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommending legalization that also acknowledged an inevitable increase in responsibility for law enforcement and municipalities.

Other organizations like the Mental Health Association in New York Inc. have argued more scientific research is needed before a green light is given, as mental health impacts are no light matter, especially as the brain is continually developing until one’s mid-twenties.

NYSAC held a panel last week which also went over future farming and development plans for cannabis, such as hemp or medical cannabis production.

There’s been mixed reviews whether or not the legislation will be dealt within the budget process, as Cuomo himself has mentioned, April 1 is a long way away yet.

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