Area law enforcement: legalizing recreational marijuana is a bad idea
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Lawmakers in Albany are expected to tackle the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana this year, but local law enforcement says it's not a good idea.
On Friday, local agencies voiced their concerns and at the top of their list is public safety.
"Issues dealing with marijuana make it a little more difficult to detect," says Acting Chemung County Sheriff Bill Schrom. "There isn't a device that screens if someone is under the influence of marijuana and we have to rely on other means to do that."
One of those means is the use of Drug Recognition Experts. Right now, only a few local officers have the training because the process is expensive and time consuming.
Schrom was joined by personnel from Corning, West Elmira, Schuyler County Sheriff's Office, Horseheads, Elmira Heights and Elmira Police.
A lot of support for the idea stems from the possibility of a large financial impact.
Schrom addressed this idea, saying "the initial projection is $83 million in the first year of legalization. I think if you compare that with the increased costs of individuals out on the road under the influence, those costs inevitably will outweigh what you're going to bring in with regard to accidents, deaths, lawsuits and those sort of things."
The state's Sheriff's Union has been studying data from states who have made this legal. Numbers from both Colorado and Massachusetts point to a spike in the amount of deaths caused by car accidents and violent crime.
"As we move forward dealing with the addiction issues in our culture and in our society, why would we add one more thing to the plate that can cause addiction, contribute to addiction, and negatively impact our folks who are in recovery?" asks Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard.
Right now there's no set timetable for lawmakers to make a decision on the matter.