Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck authored the following letter, outlining his trip to Albany to oppose the legalization of marijuana. He was joined by a number of law enforcement representatives who are urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to reconsider legalization.
“Today join a number of my fellow Sheriffs in Albany, as well as representatives from many organizations throughout NY State, at a press conference urging the Governor and our State Legislature to reconsider the pending legalization of recreational marijuana. At the same time a number of Sheriffs will be holding similar press conferences in their own counties throughout the state.
I strongly oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana use in NY State because I know that the public health and safety of our community would suffer as a result. This has already been the case in the State of Colorado where recreational marihuana use was legalized in 2012. A recent report issued by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) analyzed the effects of legalization in Colorado and provided some disturbing data. This included:
- Traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana more than doubled between 2013 and 2017.
- 69 percent of self-identified marijuana users admitted to driving after having consumed marijuana according to a Colorado Department of Transportation survey.
- Crime rates in Colorado have increased 11 times faster than that of the rest of the nation since legalization with an 8.3% increase in property crimes and an 18.6% increase in violent crimes (Colorado Bureau of Investigation, 2017).
- Marijuana use by youth has increased sharply since legalization.
Based on my experience, and the available data from Colorado, I know that legal recreational marijuana use in our community will result in an increase in drugged driving, traffic deaths, crime rates, and use by our children. It is clear that increased smoking rates would have public health implications as well.
As your Sheriff, I am committed to public safety. In recent years I have personally investigated deaths on our local highways caused by drunk and impaired drivers and I have witnessed the impact on the victim’s families. Legalizing marijuana will certainly result in an increase in these incidents. The social cost of legalization is too high and the strain on our resources too great as we continue to fight the worst drug epidemic in our local history. We cannot make it easier for our children and youth to obtain and smoke marijuana and we cannot support policies that will undoubtedly result in an increase in crime rates.”