Rochester-area marijuana advocates are saying police are on the wrong side of legalization, a day after a group of law enforcement officers from across western New York spoke out against a proposal that would okay recreational use of the drug.
Thursday, those law enforcement officers, which included sheriffs from Livingston, Genesee, Wyoming and other counties, along with police chiefs and district attorneys, warned that legalization could come with some unwanted consequences.
Among his arguments, Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said marijuana legalization would lead to increases in cases of drugged driving. He also pointed out that there are still questions when it comes to how police agencies will be able to test for the drug.
Advocates from ROC NORML say that’s not an accurate picture and that their opposition has more to do with a lack of education and preconceived notions.
“They’re trained that it’s a bad drug and it’s not something they’re going to easily accept,” says Mary Kruger, ROC NORML. “It’s a lack of education and accessibility to even be able to educate themselves.”
ROC NORML SAYS the stats law enforcement officers are going off of don’t paint the full picture — nor do they account for the harm that current laws inflict on minority populations.
“The illegality of marijuana has hit certain communities disproportionately and that affects people throughout their lifetimes,” said Jason Klimek, cannabis law attorney. “Minority communities are arraigned at ten times the rate of non-minorities when we know the consumption rates are about equal.”
Police cited a stat from Colorado that traffic deaths where the driver had marijuana in their system doubled since it was legalized. But ROC NORML says that doesn’t actually take into account when the marijuana was consumed — which could have been days before the crash.