Flynn cites public safety concerns as vote on legalizing recreational marijuana looms

Mar 18, 2021

With state lawmakers nearing a vote on legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn is urging lawmakers to consider keeping marijuana on the controlled substances list of the Public Health Law.

“If they take marijuana off that list, now I can’t even prosecute it, period,” he said.

Flynn’s specific concern is the crime of Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs. The legislation would lower driving while impaired by marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation.

And while he doesn’t take a position on whether the drug should be legal, Flynn does believe driving under its influence is dangerous, and recommends lawmakers acknowledge that in legislation.

“You just need to add a provision in the statute that says you can still prosecute marijuana or the effects of marijuana as a crime under the Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 1192,” he said.

Flynn argues states that have legalized marijuana have seen higher rates of traffic accidents and fatalities as a result, but a recent NPR report found legalization had little to no impact in those areas.