NYS sheriffs just say 'no' to legalized marijuana

Feb 7, 2019

New York's sheriffs are organizing to press Albany not to legalize marijuana, while recognizing this may be a train that has already left the station.

The State Sheriff's Association is holding a number of meetings around the state Thursday, locally in Geneseo, to make it clear they do not want legal pot.

Chautauqua County Sheriff Jim Quattrone is in Albany to attend the meeting there. He has already met with State Senator Kathy Young (R-Olean) and Assemblymember Andy Goodell (R-Jamestown), who represent his county, to make his views clear.

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and many state legislators, including Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo) are pushing legalization, Quattrone says "no."

"I'm opposed to legalizing recreational use of marijuana. I'm still in favor of the medical use of marijuana," he said. "If we look at some of the states that have already legalized it, specifically Colorado, have seen an increase of car crashes, as well as an increased crime rate."

Quattrone said there is a noticeable crime rate increase around Colorado stores selling pot.

"The illegal growers will continue on and we've seen again in the states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana, the black market is thriving and there's still going to be that black market and perhaps even more so," Quattrone said.

The sheriff said a major issue to him is people driving stoned.

"Most counties in the state are similar. I have a great concern, specifically, about the driving of cars while under the influence," he said. "Many people often look on cannabis as a drug that's not too dangerous, but when somebody is operating a vehicle while under the influence, it's extreme danger."

He said it is very difficult to get the legal probable cause to test driver blood to determine there is marijuana and it is not yet clear what level of THC - the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis - will be a crime.