Take Recreational Marijuana Use Out of the Budget
MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
865 Merrick Avenue, Westbury, New York 11590-9007
Telephone: (516) 488-6100
For Immediate Release
MSSNY: Take Recreational Marijuana Use Out of the Budget
March 28, 2019, Westbury, NY—As the New York State Legislature continues to grapple with its 2019-20 State Budget, MSSNY is hopeful that any discussion regarding legalization for recreational or “adult use” of marijuana be taken out of the budget.
Since Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) legalized marijuana, past-month use of the drug has continued to rise above the national average among youth aged 12–17 in all five jurisdictions (National Survey on Drug Use and Health [NSDUH], 2006-2017). Many people believe that marijuana is not addictive, but brain scans of marijuana users show changes in the structure of the brain’s reward center to be consistent with addiction (Gilman et al., 2014). Colorado Department of Health Services, Office of Behavioral Health reported in 2017 that marijuana is the second most implicated drug—after alcohol—in addiction treatment admissions. These are just some of the reasons that we have been strong in our opposition to legalizing this substance.
We have been making some headway and part of this effort has been through collaboration with the Medical Societies of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware. We offered a joint statement opposing the legalization and just this week the New Jersey Legislature was unable to muster the votes for passage.
However, we have heard from many legislative members about the need to “decriminalize” certain aspects that lead to disparities in arrests and convictions of minorities that come from involvement with marijuana. All of us have different views on what “decriminalization” means in the context of marijuana. Does it mean lower fines, no jail time? Or does it mean treatment rather than arrest? Should we expunge a criminal record related to marijuana convictions? These are all questions that will need to be answered.
We will be asking the other states to join with us in urging that their respective governors and legislatures of each state have a meaningful discussion on “decriminalization.” While we recognize that each state has its own set of laws and regulations, perhaps it’s time for us to combine our effort in resolving this issue of ensuring that all individuals are treated equitably under the law.
Our geographical nearness should permit the creation of an interstate task force to allow us some common sense rules that would be applicable along state lines.
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About the Medical Society of the State of New York
Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.
Medical Society of the State of New York
865 Merrick Ave.
Westbury, New York
516.488.6100 x 302