The state of New York is weighing whether it should legalize marijuana — and a new report comes down hard in favor of the move, Bloomberg reports.
Governor Andrew Cuomo asked for the report in January 2018, and today the New York State Department of Health sent the “Regulated Marijuana Report” to the governor’s office. As part of the study, New York State agencies and experts examined the peer-reviewed literature about pot, public health, public safety — and, of course, the public pocketbook. They also investigated how other states that have legalized weed have fared. The results, released today, are a persuasive argument in favor of legalization: “It has become less a question of whether to legalize but how to do so responsibly,” the report says.
“ONE IN 10 NEW YORKERS USED MARIJUANA IN THE LAST MONTH.”
It’d certainly be a popular move, since “one in 10 New Yorkers used marijuana in the last month,” the report says. And it could mean gains for public health: for one thing, regulating weed sales could cut down on contaminants like “fungi spores, mold, bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, and growth enhancers,” the report says.
It could also help fight the opioid epidemic, the report says. After all, medical cannabis can be prescribed for pain-relief — and legalizing weed would mean more people have access to it, the report says. Swapping out opioids for pot “greatly reduces the chance of dependence, and eliminates the risk of fatal overdose compared to opioid-based medications,” the report says, citing studies that show fewer deaths related to opioids in states that permit medical cannabis.
Of course, there are risks associated with cannabis, which the report acknowledges. Using it while pregnant, for example, has been linked to babies with lower birthweights. The smoke could be bad for lungs. Cannabis use might exacerbate psychotic disorders in those who are susceptible to them, the report says. And what if people drive stoned?
REGULATION COULD HELP REDUCE A LOT OF THE RISKS
Regulation could help reduce a lot of the risks, according to the report — which has a few recommendations. Those include banning sales to people under 21 years old, cracking down on the illegal market, studying what cannabis use means for driving, and making sure that pot farms and dispensaries are secure. Overall, the study says, “The negative health consequences of marijuana have been found to be lower than those associated with alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs including heroin and cocaine.”