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Should New York State Legalize Recreational Marijuana?

Legalization In The Empire State

The Town of Orangetown, New York is polling their constituents on whether or not they would support legalizing recreational marijuana usage in New York state. The question comes amid a rising tide of pro-legalization movements nationally and more states slowly loosening their marijuana laws. Still, the overwhelming majority of states have yet to legalize recreational use. Will Orangetown residents adapt or double down on marijuana legislation?

Disclaimer: These results are not statistically significant due to the selective ability to respond and share. However, the quantity of responses and comments provide insight into overall sentiment, top concerns, and interest in this proposal.

Results

Results from the Town of Orangetown, New York

967 total responses were recorded through Involved. 452 said yes, they would support legalizing recreational marijuana use in New York (46.74%). The other 515 (53.26%) said no, they would not support this change.

176 comments were also recorded, spanning the spectrum of strong support to strong disapproval among Orangetown residents.

One user said, “I think it's a great idea to legalize marijuana because in my opinion it will reduce crime, and reduce prison populations. Also, I see it as a harmless drug, much less harmful than alcohol.”

Another pro-legalization resident added, “This is a no brainer. Come on, the comparison to alcohol at EVERY facet is way worse. Alcohol should be banned and marijuana legal judging by today's standards.”

Results from Orangetown's Survey

Many who support legalization seem to feel that this is an outdated question, and that we are moving past this issue as a society.

“Legalize and regulate. Let's move past this age old issue.”

“It never should have been made illegal to begin with,” said another.

“Marijuana is not a alcohol type of drug, it [is] medicinal and also can help save many lives. We are now in the year 2019. Let’s make a change.”

Opponents of this proposal feel that the dangers of marijuana outweigh the benefits.

“This world is screwed up enough without legalizing on other vice. Accidents will increase and lives will be lost.”

One resident said, “Marijuana is a drug. It influences cognitive thinking. It is dangerous to drivers, especially young people who are easily influenced by peers and adults who have no common sense. I don't need to be worried that a person under the influence will hurt my children or myself when we are driving to and from our destination. My answer is 100% NO!”

“Think of all the kids who will be negatively affected by legalizing this as a recreational drug. Too many children do not realize the harmful effects it has on their developing brain,” added another.

NOTE: Studies have shown a possible correlation between heavy, regular marijuana consumption and long-term neuropsychological decline. There is little existing evidence to suggest that sporadic use would have the same effect. Additionally, researchers have found inconclusive results as to whether or not legalization leads to an increase in adolescent usage of marijuana.

A Shifting Perspective

As the rest of the country moves towards legalization, it’s clear that Orangetown residents are still divided. Though only 10 states have legalized recreational use thus far, many more states will likely follow over the next few elections.

The states that have adopted legal recreational use are the standard by which other states will evaluate this question in the coming years.  As the first two states to legalize, Colorado and Washington have the largest sample size to judge. Both states passed ballot referendums in 2012 to legalize recreational use.

In Colorado, the results have been mixed. Per The Gazette, arrests are down due to the plummeting of possession charges, youth use does not appear to be rising, traffic deaths directly attributable to marijuana decreased, and revenue quadrupled between 2014 and 2018. However, organized crime and hospital/emergency room/poison control center visits are rising.

For more information, here are a few resources on the potential risks and benefits of marijuana:

https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects.html

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0018440

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320984.php

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037578/

Caleb McDermott