Remember when the radical left pushed for legalization of marijuana for medical purposes? I do. It was back in the 1990s. I told people at the time that this was merely a gateway issue that would lead to recreational pot. That’s exactly what happened.
The reason (excuse) for legalization were the significant pain-relieving benefits for people stricken with cancer and serious medical conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The THC compound responsible for reducing pain can easily be extracted without the need for pot smoking. Recreational pot was the mission and medicinal pot was the means by which to arrive. Here in New York, we have arrived.
Medical marijuana has been legal in New York since 2014. New York lawmakers are expected to vote this week on legalizing recreational pot and the bill is expected to pass. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign the legislation which will be effective 18 months from now. The reason Cuomo is doing this is to divert attention away from his incompetence regarding the outrageous nursing home scandal in which his poor decisions resulted in thousands of people dying. He is doing it in the hopes that people will forget the sex harassment allegations against him, and the recent disclosure that his family (including CNN host Chris Cuomo) got priority COVID-19 testing last April before everyone else.
Now, Cuomo is showing additional irresponsibility by agreeing to sign a bill that will result in a dramatic increase in pot users and a spike in drug-related auto collisions and fatalities. Andrew Cuomo’s record as governor is appalling; he is the worst governor in my lifetime.
There are numerous problems with marijuana. There are many pot enthusiasts who like to compare alcohol with marijuana, but there are some major differences.
Pot is a gateway drug. Alcohol is not. Pot smokers are often young risk-takers who tend to hang out with people who make harder drugs easily available, pressuring the teenagers into experimenting with more dangerous drugs. And they do.
A study in 2002 from Johns Hopkins University reported on the results that smoking marijuana can lead to LSD and other drugs:
Marijuana is a mild hallucinogen and stimulant. Teenagers who smoke pot put themselves at serious risk for negative psychological outcomes in young adulthood resulting from use of the drug, as documented in Psychiatry Advisor:
In an original investigation by JAMA Psychiatry , their findings showed an increased risk among preadolescents and adolescents for “developing depression and suicidal behavior later in life, even in the absence of a premorbid condition.”
The same JAMA Psychiatry investigation found that there is development of psychosis and lower scholastic achievement with cannabis use and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that “after alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of drivers involved in crashes.”
In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  issued the results of a study documenting motor vehicle fatalities and drug use among drivers and crash victims at pre- pandemic and post-pandemic levels. The sample included 3,003 roadway users who were seriously or fatally injured in car crashes:
With long-term use, marijuana alters personality and impedes critical thinking and responsibility needed for learning and making decisions. And because the drug will be unregulated, there will be no testing on a regular basis to see if a user is overdosing.
Those of us who take prescription drugs are held to a different standard than recreational drug users. For several years, I have been taking a very low dose of Valium that my doctor prescribes for medical reasons. People are familiar with Valium as an anti-anxiety drug. However, it is also prescribed to treat muscle spasms and as an adjunct medication for seizure disorders. I don’t abuse the drug and never would.
However, as part of the benzodiazepine class of drugs, Valium has street value. Therefore, every time I get a refill, I am required by law to submit a urine sample to ensure that there is enough of the drug in my bloodstream to prove I am not obtaining the drug to sell it. I cannot get my medicine without a urinalysis every time I renew my script. It is people who never abuse drugs and only take them as prescribed who are inconvenienced.
If the NY state legislature and governor are comfortable legalizing a potentially dangerous drug without user restrictions (except age), why are people who have ongoing prescriptions for certain drug classes still forced to have blood and/or urine tests with every refill? Aren’t we under the care of licensed physicians who have determined we still need the drug being prescribed?
Chemicals in primary marijuana smoke are potentially more toxic than cigarette smoke. These chemicals include ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and formaldehyde. How many studies exist on the deleterious health effects of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke? There is evidence that chemicals in the smoke can cause health problems for people with pulmonary disorders. Once marijuana clubs are set up throughout the state, people will be exposed to air that is likely harmful. We banned cigarette smoking decades ago in almost all indoor and many outdoor venues within New York state. We need further examination of the potential danger of secondhand marijuana smoke as the chemical content of marijuana is much higher than regular cigarettes.
Leaving New York is easy; where to go is the question. Florida, Texas and South Carolina are possible destinations. As more states legalize recreational marijuana it will be impossible to know which states will decriminalize the drug. You can move to a “conservative” state like Florida and if Gov. Ron DeSantis runs for president and a Democrat gets elected, everything can turn around. Look how much damage Joe Biden has done in less than 100 days. All it took was an incompetent radical Democrat to destroy President Trump’s achievements. All it took was a radical incompetent Democrat governor to destroy New York State.
 Gobbi G, Atkin T, Zytynski T, et al. Association of Cannabis Use in Adolescence and Risk of Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidality in Young Adulthood: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(4):426–434. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4500
 NIDA. 2019, December 31. Drugged Driving DrugFacts. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving on 2021, March 29
 Thomas, F. D., Berning, A., Darrah, J., Graham, L., Blomberg, R., Griggs, C., Crandall, M., Schulman,
C., Kozar, R., Neavyn, M., Cunningham, K., Ehsani, J., Fell, J., Whitehill, J., Babu, K., Lai, J., and Rayner, M. (2020, October). Drug and alcohol prevalence in seriously and fatally injured road users before and during the COVID-19 public health emergency (Report No. DOT HS 813 018). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.© Bonnie Chernin
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.