AGAINST POT LEGALIZATION

January 08, 2019 at 4:45 am

As the push for recreational marijuana legalization gets the governor’s nod, a powerful group of New York officials are vehemently opposed to the plan. Find out why.

Aired on January 7, 2018.

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>>> GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO HAS
MADE THE LEGALIZATION OF
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA ONE OF
HIS TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
OF 2019.
WITH DEMOCRATS NOW IN CONTROL OF
BOTH THE ASSEMBLY AND THE STATE
SENATE, LEGAL POT HAS A GOOD
CHANCE OF MAKING TO IT THE
GOVERNOR'S DESK SOONER RATHER
THAN LATER.
STILL, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE
GOVERNOR, WHO ONCE DESCRIBED
MARIJUANA AS A, QUOTE, GATEWAY
DRUG NOW FULLY SUPPORTS
LEGALIZATION, NOT EVERYONE IS ON
THE LEGALIZATION BANDWAGON.
A GROUP REPRESENTING LOCAL
HEALTH OFFICIALS FROM ACROSS NEW
YORK STATE RECENTLY CAME OUT
AGAINST THE MOVE, ARGUING THAT
SERIOUS HEALTH CONCERNS STILL
REMAIN.
AND JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT
THOSE CONCERNS IS SARAH
RAVENHALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF
THE NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION
OF COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS.
SARAH, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME, RAFAEL.
>> SO SARAH, FIRST OF ALL,
PLEASE ELABORATE.
WHAT IS THE NEW YORK STATE
ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY, STATE
OFFICIAL?
>> THE NEW YORK STATE
ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY HEALTH
OFFICIALS FOR THE LOCAL HEALTH
DEPARTMENTS.
THERE ARE 58 LOCAL HEALTH
DEPARTMENTS ACROSS THE STATE,
AND WE SUPPORT AND EMPOWER OUR
MEMBERS TO DO THEIR PUBLIC
HEALTH PREVENTION WORK IN
THEIR -- IN THE COMMUNITIES THAT
THEY SERVE.
>> SO WHY DOES THE ORGANIZATION
OPPOSE THE LEGALIZATION OF
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA?
>> SO THE COUNTY HEALTH
OFFICIALS ARE REALLY THE LEADING
EXPERTS IN THEIR COMMUNITIES WHO
MAKE DECISIONS AS EVIDENCE-BASED
DECISIONS THAT SHAPE THE HEALTH
AND SAFETY OF COMMUNITIES.
THAT IS OUR PRIORITY.
SO ALL OF THE DECISIONS WE MAKE
REALLY NEED CONCRETE EVIDENCE TO
INDICATE THAT THERE WOULDN'T BE
UNDUE HARM TO PEOPLE OF THE
STATE.
AND AFTER REVIEWING THE
RESEARCH, WE FELT LIKE THERE WAS
NOT ENOUGH LONG-TERM EVIDENCE TO
INDICATE THAT AN ADULT USE
REGULATED MARIJUANA PROGRAM
WOULD NOT CAUSE UNDUE HARM TO
COMMUNITIES IN NEW YORK STATE.
>> SO WHAT SPECIFICALLY, WHAT
ARE SOME OF THE HARMS, THE
HEALTH ISSUES YOU SEE COMING?
>> SO AN INCREASE IN MOTOR
VEHICLE ACCIDENTS.
AND THE COLORADO STATE
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND
ENVIRONMENT HAS SEEN THAT OUT OF
COLORADO, WHO ALSO HAS A
REGULATED MARIJUANA PROGRAM.
INCREASED EXPOSURES IN CHILDREN.
THERE ARE A LOT OF PRODUCTS THAT
COULD BE ENTICING TO CHILDREN,
EDIBLES FOR EXAMPLE.
AND COLORADO HAS SEEN AN
INCREASED NUMBER OF
HOSPITALIZATIONS DUE TO THAT.
A POSSIBLE LINKAGE IN THE USE,
LONG-TERM USE OF MARIJUANA BEING
CONNECTED TO POSSIBLE FUTURE
ADDICTION.
THIS ONE'S PARTICULARLY
IMPORTANT AS WE CONTINUE TO
COMBAT THE CURRENT OPIOID
EPIDEMIC.
IT'S SOMETHING ON OUR RADAR.
THOSE CONCERNS REALLY, REALLY
CULMINATE IN OUR POSITION OF
OPPOSITION.
>> HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THOSE
WHO ARGUE, WHO HAVE HEARD THESE
POINTS AND ARGUE, LISTEN, ALL
THOSE THINGS, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE
ARE ALREADY SMOKING MARIJUANA
RECREATIONALLY.
SO ALL THOSE THINGS ARE ALREADY
HAPPENING.
THEREFORE, MAYBE IT'S BETTER TO
LEGALIZE AND REGULATE IT AS
ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO IS
REGULATED.
AT LEAST YOU HAVE SOME CONTROL
OVER IT.
YOUR RESPONSE.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
AS PUBLIC HEALTH STEWARDS, AND
THAT REALLY IS OUR ROLE, PUBLIC
HEALTH, COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS,
OUR REAL HEALTH IS PUBLIC
HEALTH.
WE FELT IT IMPORTANT TO COME OUT
TO THE PUBLIC AND MAKE SURE
THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RISKS
AND PRELIMINARY RESEARCH THAT IS
OUT THERE INDICATING POTENTIAL
HEALTH IMPACTS.
>> BUT AS I SAID IN THE
INTRODUCTION, THE GOVERNOR IS
FOR LEGALIZATION.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IS FOR
LEGALIZATION.
ALMOST EVERY SIGNIFICANT TOP
ELECTED OFFICIAL IS FOR
LEGALIZATION.
NOW MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE STATE
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IS FOR
LEGALIZATION.
WHAT IS IT THAT THEY DON'T KNOW?
>> AND WE DO -- OUR MEMBERS DO
UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE MANY
BECAUSE IT'S A VERY COMPLEX
ISSUE THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT
PERSPECTIVES.
WE'RE VERY AWARE OF THE
POTENTIAL SOCIAL JUSTICE, RACIAL
JUSTICE IMPACT THAT SOMETHING
LIKE THIS COULD HAVE.
WE'RE ALSO AWARE OF THE INCOME.
WE WANT TO SUPPORT INITIATIVES
TO BRING INCOME TO THE STATE,
BUT NOT AT THE RISK OF THE
HEALTH OF THE COMMUNITY WE
SERVE.
SO -- WE'RE REALLY COMING FROM A
PUBLIC HEALTH PERSPECTIVE.
AND IN ADDITION, WE SEE WHERE
THIS IS GOING, AND THERE ARE
SAFEGUARD I THINK THAT THE STATE
CAN CONSIDER WHEN PUTTING
REGULATIONS TOGETHER SUCH AS
SETTING THE AGE OF SALE AT 21
YEARS, AND THEN CONCURRENTLY,
LEGALIZING TOBACCO 21 AT THE
SAME TIME.
THIS TYPE OF REGULATION WILL
PROTECT PEOPLE FROM EXPOSURES TO
E-CIGARETTES, TO TOBACCO
PRODUCTS, AND NOW POSSIBLY TO
REGULATED MARIJUANA.
YEAH?
>> NO, NO.
I WAS JUST GOING TO -- YOU
MENTIONED THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE
IMPACT OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA.
AS OBVIOUSLY YOU KNOW THAT THE
LAW HAS BEEN DISPROPORTIONATELY
ENFORCED IN COMMUNITIES OF
COLOR.
BUT YOU DON'T -- YOU AND YOUR
ORGANIZATION DON'T THINK THAT
REVERSING THAT IS A SUFFICIENT
REASON TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA?
>> WE'RE REALLY COMING FROM THE
PERSPECTIVE OF COUNTY HEALTH
OFFICIALS.
THE LEADING HEALTH STRATEGIST IN
A COMMUNITY WHO KNOWS THE
COMMUNITY, KNOWS WHAT THE
COMMUNITY NEEDS, AND WANTS TO
COMMUNICATE THE POTENTIAL RISKS
ASSOCIATED WITH USING THIS TYPE
OF PRODUCT.
FOR EXAMPLE, THERE IS RESEARCH
THAT SHOWS THC REMAINS IN THE
BREAST MILK OF A BREAST-FEEDING
MOTHER FOR UP TO SIX DAYS AFTER
USE OF CANNABIS.
WE ARE GOING TO BE EXPECTED AND
RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMUNICATING
THAT TYPE OF INFORMATION TO THE
PUBLIC SO THAT WE CAN HELP
PROTECT VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
FROM THAT PUBLIC HEALTH
PERSPECTIVE.
>> EARLIER YOU MENTIONED THE
EXAMPLE OF COLORADO, WHICH HAS
RELLIZED MARIJUANA NOW FOR A
COUPLE OF YEARS.
AND THERE IS TEN STATES, PLUS
WASHINGTON, D.C. THAT HAVE
LEGALIZED IT.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LESSONS
THAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THOSE
STATES, SINCE AS YOU SAY, YOU
KNOW, IT'S PROBABLY VERY LIKELY
GOING TO HAPPEN HERE.
>> THE PROGRAM NEEDS TO BE
IMPLEMENTED AND LAID OUT BEFORE
SALES BEGIN.
THE AGE OF SALE NEEDS TO BE SET
AT 21.
WE NEED TO FUND RESEARCH AND
CLINICAL TRIALS THAT WILL HELP
US KIND OF GROW THE AVAILABLE
EVIDENCE BASE SO THAT WE CAN
STAND PREPARED AND READY TO KNOW
WHAT THE IMPACTS ARE GOING TO BE
AND WHAT THE LONG-TERM OUTCOMES
ARE GOING TO BE.
IN ADDITION, LOCAL HEALTH
DEPARTMENTS HAVE TO BE FUNDED TO
DO THIS WORK.
THEY ARE THE HEALTH EXPERTS IN
THE COMMUNITY, AND THEY'RE GOING
TO BE RELIED UPON TO DELIVER
THIS TYPE OF INFORMATION TO THE
PUBLIC.
WE SERVE THE PUBLIC THAT IS OUR
NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.
BUT WE NEED THE INFRASTRUCTURE
IN PLACE TO DO THIS TYPE OF WORK
BEFORE THE POLICY ROLLS OUT.
>> AND FINALLY, SARAH, I
IMAGINE, MAYBE I'M WRONG, BUT I
IMAGINE YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION
HAS HAD A CHANCE TO SIT DOWN AND
TALK TO THE GOVERNOR ABOUT THIS.
IF YOU HAD, WHAT'S BEEN THE
RESPONSE OF HIS RESPONSE AND HIS
ADMINISTRATION'S RESPONSE?
>> THANK YOU.
SO TO BE CLEAR, WE WEREN'T
INVOLVED IN THE INITIAL
ASSESSMENT OF THE POLICY, THE
STATE'S POLICY OR ASSESSMENT.
BUT WE HAVE HAD THE WONDERFUL
OPPORTUNITY AND VERY HELPFUL
CONVERSATIONS SITTING DOWN WITH
HIM, TALKING ABOUT THE ROLE OF
PUBLIC HEALTH, AND THEY'VE BEEN
RECEPTIVE TO THAT.
THEY'VE ASSURED US THAT THE ROLE
OF PUBLIC HEALTH WILL BE
INCORPORATED INTO WHATEVER
PROGRAM THEY PROPOSE.
BUT AGAIN, AS PUBLIC HEALTH
OFFICIALS SERVING THE
COMMUNITIES, WE REPRESENT
COMMUNITIES AND FAMILIES AND
CHILDREN.
WE WANTED TO COME OUT VISIBLY TO
THE PUBLIC TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT
OUR CONCERNS REALLY ARE.
>> ALL RIGHT, SARAH.
WELL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
THAT.
AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US
TODAY.
>> THANK YOU POUR THE
OPPORTUNITY, RAFAEL.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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