May 2, 2019

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘Sheriff, District Attorney Weigh In on Legalizing Recreational Marijuana’

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To the editor:

I was pleased to see the topic of marijuana legalization covered at the recent League of Women Voters of Tompkins County panel in your April 29 article. As a local physician who treats people diagnosed with substance use disorder, I strongly support legalization. Every day, I see how marijuana prohibition actively hurts the people I serve.

I would like to offer a few clarifications on the panelists’ comments. First, it’s impossible to overdose on marijuana. Second, data from states that have legalized marijuana show no increase in impaired driving. The broad support for marijuana legalization in Tompkins County reflects the ways in which the legalization bill before the state legislature directly addresses the public health and safety points made by panelists. That’s why the Tompkins County Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill endorsing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. As District Attorney Matthew Van Houten explained, when asking law enforcement to deprioritize ticketing for marijuana possession, “there’s no tangible risk to community based on possession of small amounts of marijuana.” It’s time to stop perpetuating the stale myths about marijuana and implement legalization for public safety, justice and economic prosperity for all New Yorkers.

Ric Allen, M.D.

REACH Medical, Ithaca, NY